AmaZulu seek cup glory

2008-05-02 00:00

Having scored a staggering 22 goals in their three previous games to breeze through the opening rounds, AmaZulu might find the going a little tougher in their Nedbank Cup semi-final against Mamelodi Sundowns in Potchefstroom tomorrow.

AmaZulu blasted 14 unanswered goals past hapless third division team Young Ones in their opening encounter in Umlazi, then a further five without reply against Cape side Vasco Da Gama in Chatsworth.

Their chief scorers in those two games were the first-choice striker partnership of Dumisani Ngwenya, who knocked in five against Young Ones and a brace against Vasco, and Siyabonga Mkhwanazi with a hat-trick against Young Ones.

But in the quarter-final against Black Leopards in Thohoyandou, Mpho Maleka, who normally comes off the bench, showed he too can be a dangerous customer when given a starting chance by banging in a third hat-trick for AmaZulu in the competition. It was also the fifth time an Usuthu player has scored two or more goals in three matches in the Nedbank, with substitiute Sthembiso Dlamini also notching up a brace against Vasco.

The statistics have been quite remarkable for Usuthu, though they face far tougher opposition than their two third division opponents and last-placed team in the Premier Soccer League, in defending PSL champions Sundowns tomorrow.

Downs have hit form under caretaker Trott Moloto, rising from 12th to fourth in the PSL since the former Maritzburg United and Bafana Bafana coach replaced Gordon Igesund in February. They have beaten FC Cape Town (2-0), Kaizer Chiefs (5-4 on penalties), and SuperSport United (2-1) in the previous rounds of the R6 million first-prize Nedbank Cup.

Sundowns striker Lerato Chabangu, who put aside a drunk-driving court appearance on Tuesday with a Man-of-the-Match performance in Downs’ impressive 2-0 league victory over then-leaders Ajax Cape Town on Wednesday, said the Brazilians are expecting a tough game.

"AmaZulu are a good side who can surprise us if we take them lightly. We cannot afford to relax, but must play our normal passing game," the Bafana striker told the Sundowns website.

Chabangu is set for an interesting clash with AmaZulu’s solid DR Congolese central defender Belux Bukasa Kasongo.

In today’s lower-key semi-final First Division upstarts Mpumalanga Black Aces take on Free State Stars at the Super Stadium in Atteridgeville.

Like many NFD Inland Stream teams, Aces have a number of players with PSL experience under coach Kenny Ndlazi, including two formerly of Maritzburg United — striker Kabamba Musasa and defender Thabang Rooi.

Others include former Orlando Pirates stars Felix Mwamba Musasa and Lucas Tlhomelang, ex-Bucs captain Eddie Dinha and ex-SuperSport midfielder Mandla Zwane.

Goalkeeper Michel Babale, who will be playing against his former team, has been a central figure in the bribery case that has seen Inland winners FC AK expelled from the NFD. He will have to be at his best against Stars’ dangerous strikers, Diyo Sibisi, Jimmy Kauleza and Collins Chabalala.

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