AmaZulu FC returned to winning ways in the DStv Premiership when they defeated Baroka FC 1-0 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The victory elevated Usuthu to the seventh spot on the league standings as they returned to the top half of the table and they will now face Maritzburg United in the KwaZulu-Natal Derby clash on April 16.
The two teams struggled to create clear cut chances in the opening stages of the match with most of the ball being played in the middle of the park. Manuel Kambala was battling with Makhehleni Makhaula for control of the midfield.
However, Bakgaga Ba Mphahlele upped the tempo after the half-hour mark and they began creating goalscoring opportunities. The best chance of the first half fell for Sekela Sithole, who found himself in a one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Veli Mothwa.
The AmaZulu shot-stopper produced a fine save to deny Sithole, who was looking to amends after missing a penalty during Baroka’s 5-1 embarrassing defeat to Cape Town City last weekend. The score was 0-0 during half-time following a relatively quiet first half.
Usuthu were the better side in the second-half as they pushed for the opening goal and they registered a shot on target when Thabo Qalinge forced keeper Oscarine Masuluke into a smart save. However, Masuluke was beaten with 18 minutes left.
Substitute Bonginkosi Ntuli unleashed a fierce right-footed shot that beat Masuluke, but the woodwork came to Bakgaga Ba Mphahlele’s rescue. Usuthu continued to search for a late winning goal in the closing stages of the encounter and they got it in stoppage time.
Luvuyo Memela was the hero for the visitors as the experienced attacker beat Masuluke to seal AmaZulu’s 1-0 win with substitute Sphesihle Maduna providing the assist after the Baroka defence was exposed.
AmaZulu 1 (Memela 90’+3)
Baroka: Masuluke, Mphahlele, Makume, Farmer, Ngubane, Bobete, Kambala, Masiya, Ndlovu (Mbulu 63′), Sithole (Maluleke 74′), Mkagopa.
AmaZulu: Mothwa, Sikhakhane, Kunene (Zulu 77′), Gumede, Khumalo, Malepe, Makhaula, Ekstein (Mlambo 46′), Memela, Qalinge (De Jong 77′), Majoro (Ntuli 66′, Maduna 88′).