AmaZulu manager Benni McCarthy has hailed his team after securing progression into the next round of the CAF Champions League preliminaries.
Trailing 1-0 after the home leg of their first round tie against Nyasa Big Bullets of Malawi, Usuthu claimed a 3-1 win in Lilongwe on Saturday to advance 3-2 on aggregate.
After a poor start to the season which has also seen them fail to win any of their opening three league matches and fall out of the MTN8, this result signals a return to form for the Durban side.
“If I really must be honest, I think myself and the whole of SA were very shocked when we lost at home, but I have to say we never underestimated them,” McCarthy said, as quoted by Times Live.
He added, “They were going to be more disciplined, organised and reluctant to want to make a game of it because they scored the all-important goal.
“They were always going to be uncompromising and we are the ones who were going to have to win the game.
“We had to outsmart them and I think we did by playing two big strikers that they couldn’t handle.
“I think we nailed our strategy down to the tee. But I did not think that we would make it so difficult, complicate it for ourselves by not winning at home, have to come all out in Malawi, be under pressure and have to be composed and disciplined, and almost like fight for your life kind of situation.
“So I am just very happy for the players. They were able to overturn the deficit and they showed great maturity, experience and desire that we maybe lacked at home when we lost 0-1. We did not have a lot of desire.
“But we showed spirit and we showed character, we showed why we finished second in our domestic league.”
AmaZulu will next be in action on Wednesday when they face Durban rivals Golden Arrows in a DStv Premiership clash, while their next opponents in the Champions League will be DR Congo giants TP Mazembe, with the teams battling for a group stage place over two legs in October.