AmaZulu win KZN thriller

2008-03-05 00:00

OF the two Premier Soccer League games played in KZN yesterday, AmaZulu’s “six-pointer” derby against fellow relegation candidates Thanda Royal Zulu last night always had the prospect to be the most exciting, and Usuthu’s 2-1 victory was indeed a thriller.

The fast-paced, action-packed match at King's Park followed the afternoon’s less inspiring 2-1 victory by a Mamelodi Sundowns team still coping with the departure of coach Gordon Igesund last week against Lamontville Golden Arrows at King Zwelithini Stadium.

With all to play for AmaZulu and Thanda each went for the throat, but it was the former team who sunk their teeth in with their superior tempo, skill on the ball and pressing football.

AmaZulu, roared on by a small but charged-up group of supporters, almost ran Thanda ragged in an electric-paced first half to take a 2-0 lead into the break.

Their first goal was gifted on a platter by Thanda goalkeeper Aime Kitenge in the fourth minute, who, after receiving a backpass played the ball straight to Siyabonga Mkhwanazi to finish into an open goal.

Thanda were unlucky not to pull one back five minutes later when Serge Djiehoua won Ryan Botha’s cross played in from the left, and Bernard Parker’s shot struck the left upright.

AmaZulu also rattled the woodwork through Belux Kasongo’s long-range volley.

In the 31st minute Mkhwanazi’s rocket was parried by Kitenge and Dumisani Ngwenya’s follow-up was hit straight into the keeper’s legs.

A minute later Usuthu made it 2-0, John Moshoeu’s bicycle kick from Bafo Biyela’s corner looping to Ngwenya to head in at the left upright.

Thanda needed to do something drastic and, after Katlego Loke had replaced limping right-wing Felix Obada just before the break, brought on attacking midfielder Scara Ngobese for defender Bongani Mbhele at half time.

AmaZulu, though, continued to stretch their opponents, with Moshoeu putting Mkhwanazi through, who blasted straight at Kitenge.

Thanda striker Serge Djiehoua‚s close-range header was excellently saved by keeper Kalilo Kakonje. At the other end Ngwenya’s pass threaded from the left put Mkhwanazi through, with the striker’s shot saved by Kitenge.

Patrick Mayo, on for Djiehou, headed straight to the feet of Kakonje from Loke’s cross, but Thanda did finally pull one back in the 79th minute. Loke again swung in a dangerous ball from the right, which Ryan Botha got on the end of to finish with a volley that looped over Kakonjes head.

Mayo’s shot through a crowd tested the AmaZulu ‚keeper again. Usuthu, though, closed up shop and held on for victory.

In Umlazi Arrows were made to pay for some slack defending by a relatively ordinary looking Sundowns — now under caretaker-coach Trott Moloto — who ended a three-match losing run.

The visitors took the lead in the 43rd minute when Lerato Chabangu’s pass put Uruguayan striker Bryan Aldave through to beat the offside trap and round Arrows, keeper Nkosana Maseko on the left, with some work to do to finish from a narrow angle.

In the 57th minute Downs made it 2-0 when, after the Arrows defence gave possession away, the ball was worked to winger Fanyana Dladla, whose shot from range was spilled into the net by keeper Nkosana Maseko.

Arrows pulled one back in the 74th minute through a soft penalty awarded by referee Leslie Deans after Thokozani Mshengu had gone down under the challenge of Jorge Acuna, and Papi Zothwane slotted easily.

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