Nedbank Cup winks at AmaZulu

2010-05-10 00:00

AMAZULU reached their third cup semi-final of the season with a 2-1 Nedbank Cup quarter-final win over Pretoria University at Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday night, and now will have their sights set on progressing further in the competition.

With the final of the Nedbank to be the globally televised first game at 95 000-seater World Cup final venue Soccer City, Usuthu have all to play for in the semi-finals. Added incentive is the R6 million prize money on offer for the competition’s winners.

While AmaZulu have been one of the form teams of the second half of the season, coach Neil Tovey said his side will need to show more discipline if they are to go all the way in the Nedbank.

Usuthu have shown plenty of grit and fight reaching the semis, though their discipline has been patchy.

The Durban team started with a 1-0 win over Maritzburg United at Harry Gwala in the first round, where AmaZulu were comprehensively outplayed, but scored with a last-gasp Bradley Ritson breakaway.

In the second round against Moroka Swallows at the Rand Stadium, Usuthu were 1-0 up before conceding two goals in two minutes — the first of which was a Mark van Heerden own goal — then equalised through Sandile Gumede in the 88th minute. The KZN team eventually won on penalties.

On Saturday night, in front of a good crowd, AmaZulu looked to be cruising to victory thanks to first-half goals by Pere Ariweriyai via an eighth-minute penalty and Tsweu Mokoro’s 36th-minute strike. But Warren Bishop’s 59th-minute sending-off for a rash challenge on Mlonishwa Dlamini, which led to the defender’s second yellow card from referee Peter Mabuza, allowed Tuks back into the game.

The Pretoria First Division team are not quite the force they were in last season’s run to the final of the Nedbank, but remain a tightly-drilled outfit under coach Steve Barker, and managed to put enough pressure on Usuthu to conjure a 90th-minute consolation goal, also from the penalty spot. Joseph Mthombeni slotted after Ariweriyai handled an awkwardly bouncing ball, though replays showed the offence took place outside the area.

Even before Bishop’s sending off, Tuks had put up a competitive fight and Mokoro’s goal came somewhat against the run of play. But AmaZulu controlled the game while they had 11 men, and, in the end, fought hard with 10 to preserve their victory.

“It’s good to be in a semi-final, and it’s our third of the season, but we have to cut out these red cards and letting teams back into the game if we want to go further,” Tovey said.

“I think we have got a very good football team though we have got to be careful not to play the player, and to play the ball. In the end, we probably made this game tougher than it really was.”

AmaZulu are bidding to become the second KZN team to win a trophy this season after Lamontville Golden Arrows’ MTN8 victory in September.

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