AmaZulu win marred by flurry of yellow cards

2010-03-30 00:00

AMAZULU’s hard fought 4-1 Telkom Knockout victory over their hoodoo side, SuperSport United, on Saturday in Pretoria has been marred by the fact that almost half of the playing personnel are one match from suspension.

Each sitting on two yellow cards in the Neil Tovey-led side are two goalkeepers, Mbongeni Mzimela and Nick Grande; defenders Siboniso Gumede, Marc van Heerden and Warren Bishop; midfielders Thamsanqa Sangweni, Nhlanhla Zwane and Tsoeu Mokoro; and strikers Dumisani Ngwenya, Ayanda Dlamini and Bradley Ritson.

They will want to ensure they don’t get cautioned for the third time as that would mean missing out on the final should Usuthu progress further.

The industrious midfielder, Thabo “Ntshebe” Mabaso, is definitely out of the Ajax clash as he got his third yellow card at the weekend game.

The Premier Soccer League are expected to announce the neutral venues this week for the semis set for the Easter weekend.

The other semi-final clash sees Soweto giants, Kaizer Chiefs, who eliminated Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0, meet Orlando Pirates, 2-1 winners over Jomo Cosmos.

Despite the setback that has befallen AmaZulu, it was another superb performance as they not only once again put one over the three-time PSL kings, but also achieved that victory away from home.

For the past three seasons, AmaZulu have failed to beat SuperSport in their own back yard.

This season the Gavin Hunt-led side fell to Usuthu twice, in the MTN8 and in the league clash.

The win set them up against Ajax Cape Town, known for their cup pedigree, in the semi-finals for the first time since playing the Coca-Cola Cup final, which they ultimately won, beating Kaizer Chiefs 3-1 in Gauteng in 1992.

With the odds seemingly stacked against them, Usuthu’s hero at Pretoria’s Super Stadium on Saturday, Mbongeni “Kati” Mzimela, could not hide the fact that negotiating their way to the final past the Capetonians will not be child’s play.

“To be honest, it’s a difficult situation we are finding ourselves in. We are concerned because we all want to play in the cup final, having not achieved that in our playing career.

“My mates might not want to get stuck in there as that could result in being cautioned,” said Mzimela, who pulled two spot kicks.

Reflecting on the game, the promising Mzimela said: “It was a tough match and we expected that considering that we had not beaten them in their own back yard. Total commitment saw us through.

“I am not happy with how we conceded the goals that brought them back to the game. The coach has made us aware that we need to work on minimising these mistakes as they are costly.

“This win has motivated us to keep working harder because we are close to reaching the elusive cup final.”

Ajax striker Stanton Lewis, who scored the winning goal in their 2-1 win over Lamontville Golden Arrows in Newlands on Sunday, said he is wary of Usuthu.

“You can’t beat the League champions twice in a month and be called an easy team to beat. That will be a tough team to beat and we need to be wary of them. They have good players on the ball that can hurt us,” the former junior international said.

Meanwhile, Arrows can salvage some pride in the Nedbank Cup after bowing out of the Telkom Knockout, losing 2-1 to Ajax.

Coach Manqoba Mngqithi will be hoping to get the monkey off their back by defeating the Urban Warriors, who have beaten his side twice.

Arrows have never been the same since winning their maiden cup, MTN8, thumping Ajax 6-0 in Gauteng.

They finished outside the top eight bracket, meaning they won’t be able to defend their crown next season.

A lack of commitment from the players is touted as the reason for their dismal showing of late.

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