Season Review: AmaZulu

After the high of a best-ever league placing of seventh last season, AmaZulu were shot down to earth in 2012/13 after a forgettable 80th year anniversary season when they ended 12th.

A hammering by eventual champions Kaizer Chiefs on the first day of the season, proved to be an irrevocable blow as Usuthu constantly flirted with danger.

They spent the entire first half of the season rooted to the foot of the Absa Premiership log, subsequently enduring a gloomy Christmas and New Year.

It took a coaching change, just weeks before the end of the year, to turn their fortunes following the arrival of Craig Rosslee and he ultimately saved them. takes a look back at how the 2012/2013 campaign unfolded for AmaZulu.

Then-coach Roger Palmgren had suffered a big blow in the off-season with the departure of star midfielder Thamsanqa Sangweni, but even then, no one expected a 6-0 decimation in front of their own fans in round of the Absa Premiership.

A week earlier, they had bowed out of the MTN8 with a 2-0 loss to Moroka Swallows and by the end of the first quarter they had already conceded a whopping 15 goals and managed just a single win.

Pressure was undoubtedly growing on the Swede, not helped by winter recruits Sifiso Vilakazi and Dulee Johnson failing to fire, along with key defender from the previous season, Belux Kasonga, unavailable because of paperwork problems and goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini, also the captain, out with injury.

There was finally some respite in late October and early November when they beat Platinum Stars in the Telkom Knockout, drew away at Orlando Pirates and beat University of Pretoria, the latter two in the Premiership.

But losses to both Free State clubs, Bloemfontein Celtic and Stars, lead to the sacking to Palmgren, who was replaced by Rosslee.

Things got better from there with just one loss and three draws before the end of the year, but they were still not entirely out of the woods.

A January shake-up by the new coach spelt the arrival of what turned out to be some key men in the coming months - Njabulo Manqana, Luyanda Hlongwa, Joseph Molangoane and Bongani Ndulula the most significant ones.

And by late February they were already on their way up after moving out of relegation zone, although they still hit one more major low courtesy of a 2-1 Nedbank Cup stunning by minnows Tembu Royals.

In truth, though, that was a blessing in disguise and allowed Rosslee to maintain focus on the league.

Their Premiership status was eventually rubber-stamped when they hammered Black Leopards 4-0 in KwaMashu with three games to go, Ndulula netting a brace in that game.

In total, they lost just four games in the second half of the season, two of which came in the last two games and after their safety was guaranteed.

Rosslee, who has already shipped close to a dozen players off, will need to now build on their improved form next season and spend wisely in the transfer market, where he admits he will need to bring in "six to seven quality players".