Usuthu will welcome The Rockets to the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday at 3pm, with the aim of sealing a second major cup final in two seasons.
However, the AmaZulu camp has been disrupted by the recent injury setbacks to experienced midfielder George Maluleka and Ben Motshwari.
The duo sat out of training yesterday morning as Pablo Franco Martin sharpened his boys for a tough encounter against The Rockets, and are believed to be set to miss the big match with serious injuries.
Motshwari has emerged as the long-awaited replacement for ex-captain Makhehleni Makhaula, and has been a mainstay in the heart of the Usuthu engine room.
Since making his debut as a substitute in September, Motshwari has gone on to start six more games in both the DStv Premiership and knockout tournament, cementing his place in Martin’s core.
The 34-year-old Maluleka’s his role in the squad has been slightly different to that of yesteryear as he has been subjected to appearances off the bench, often to see out games.
He would have been earmarked to take the place of Motshwari, but is set to watch on from the sidelines with his recent misfortune.
Former Orlando Pirates man Tercious Malepe is expected to take the place of the absentees in the central defensive position.
It is not all doom and gloom for Martin, though, as he also received two defensive boosts this week with the return of central defenders Veluyeke Zulu and Taariq Fielies, who took part in the entire training session.
Martin was unsure if the two players would feature at the weekend, but was delighted to have them as part of the group after a difficult couple of weeks.
“We have been facing a lot of difficulties in the last month-and-a-half, but now seeing these important players back ... Of course they haven’t played much because we aren’t sure of their fitness level as yet, so we need to understand, but this is good news for us,” he told the media yesterday.
“On the other hand, we are also getting some new injuries, as you saw against Stellenbosch, so we are also trying to get those players ready and see if we can make them a part of our plans.
“But anyway, that’s not an excuse for anything. The players we have will make the most of themselves as we always do, and we are looking forward to the game.”
AmaZulu’s perseverance, as well as squad depth, will be put to the ultimate test against The Rockets during a tournament that has already shown its ability to shine the light on upcoming and forgotten stars.
Both sets of players will also be motivated by the R100,000 man-of-the-match awards still on offer.