AmaZulu too slick for lethargic Amakhosi
Chiefs, down to ten men after Matsheke was sent off in the 72nd minute, seemed woefully short of ideas
A highly motivated AmaZulu arrived at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Wednesday on a high after a string of excellent results and claimed another three points, winning 2-1 against a 10-man Kaizer Chiefs team short of ideas.
A run of five unbeaten matches‚ including an initial three wins in a row‚ hinted at Gavin Hunt’s Chiefs finally discovering a modicum of form after a dismal start to the Premier Soccer League season‚ but they had only flattered to deceive.
The two successive draws in that run have been followed by three defeats‚ meaning Amakhosi have gone their last five matches without a win — and Hunt is still desperately searching for answers.
Wednesday’s defeat followed last week’s 2-1 Nedbank Cup humiliation at home to GladAfrica Championship side Uthongathi FC.
Augustine Mulenga gave AmaZulu the lead two minutes into first-half injury time before substitute Leonardo Castro equalised for Chiefs from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute.
Chiefs had Darrel Matsheke sent off by referee Jelly Chavani for a second bookable offence in the 72nd minute.
Substitute Lehlohonolo Majoro finished from a corner for AmaZulu’s winner in the 85th minute.
Benni McCarthy’s organised‚ energetic Usuthu hit the woodwork twice and their goalkeeper‚ Veli Mothwa‚ was easily the less active of the two glovemen. Itumeleng Khune‚ given a start by Hunt ahead of incumbent Daniel Akpeyi in Amakhosi’s goal‚ dealt well with a busy afternoon until his error led to Majoro’s winner.
Chiefs will have been disappointed on their home turf — nice and dry in sunshine after weeks of Highveld rain — that it was AmaZulu, cautiously probing openings in the first half, who shot into the lead just before the break.
Amakhosi suffered an early setback when Lebogang Manyama replaced the injured Happy Mashiane in the 16th minute. The opening half then got worse for the home team‚ who lacked spark in their movement to trouble AmaZulu.
The Durban team managed to get shots on goal‚ Luvuyo Memela volleying into the arms of Khune and a powerful drive from Mulenga thudding onto the crossbar.
A weak challenge from Reeve Frosler on Mulenga saw the ball spurt to Mthembu to advance in the middle and feed Siphelele Magubane. The winger’s attempt at a rolled finish beat Khune but was cleared off the line by Erick Mathoho. That only went as far Mulenga‚ who controlled with his first touch and smacked the second into an exposed goal.
Chiefs’ first real chance came just past the hour with Mothwa finally having to make a save as he got down to Nurkovic’s header from Frosler’s cross.
It was the threat of Nurkovic that earned Chiefs the penalty. The Serb was pulled down in the box by Tapelo Xoki. Castro‚ who had just come on for Manyama‚ struck to the right of Mothwa.
Usuthu were still able to open Chiefs with relative ease‚ Mulenga beating Matsheke in midfield to allow substitute Xola Mlambo to lay off to Magubane‚ who struck the bar.
Matsheke was adjudged to have fouled Mulenga and received his second yellow card.
AmaZulu deserved more than a draw and they got the winner when Khune failed to connect a Mulenga corner. Majoro pounced and spooned his finish over the heads of Amakhosi’s defenders on the line.
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