AmaZulu FC defeated their KwaZulu-Natal rivals Maritzburg United 1-0 in the DStv Premiership match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Despite recording their first win over the Team of Choice since March 2014, Usuthu remained seventh on the league standings – a point behind sixth-placed Stellenbosch FC and they will now take on Royal AM on April 24.
The Team of Choice threatened first through Genino Palace whose deflected shot was blocked on the goal-line by goalkeeper Veli Mothwa, who made a great recovery as he had to move swiftly to his left to make a fantastic save.
Usuthu then took control of the match and they should have opened the scoring when Lehlohonolo Majoro was sent through on goal, but the experienced striker was superbly denied by goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt.
However, Majoro was involved when AmaZulu took a 1-0 lead as his through pass which was meant for Tercious Malepe was turned home by Nicholas Lukhubeni, who netted an own-goal to hand AmaZulu a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute.
AmaZulu were leading 1-0 at the interval having grown gradually into the match and created better chances in front of goal with Maritzburg unable to penetrate the hosts’ defence.
With his side having trailed at half-time, coach Ernst Middendorp introduced Amadou Soukouna, Leletu Skelem and Rowan Human prior to the start of the second half as the Team of Choice looked to level matters and take the lead.
Maritzburg piled pressure on the AmaZulu defence and they were awarded an indirect free-kick inside the hosts’ box, but Soukouna wasted the golden opportunity as the French striker hit the wall from the set-piece.
Soukouna, who was a constant threat to the Usuthu defence as he looked to level matters for the Team of Choice, cut inside and delivered a dangerous cross which was gathered by a well-positioned Mothwa.
However, Usuthu looked dangerous on the counter in the closing proceedings of the match. Luvuyo Memela and Andre De Jong both had late chances, but they couldn’t score and ultimately, the game ended in a 1-0 win for AmaZulu.
AmaZulu (1) 1 (Lukhubeni 21′)
Maritzburg (0) 0
AmaZulu XI: Mothwa, Sikhakhane, Gumede, Mobara, Zulu, Mlambo (Maduna 68′), Malepe, Makhaula, Kunene (Moremi 60′), Memela (Buchanan 84′), Majoro (De Jong 68′).
Maritzburg United XI: Engelhardt, Claasen, Daniels, Baloyi (Skelem 46′), Pereira, Graham, Lukhubeni, Ritchie (Human 46′), Palace (Allie 46′), Samu, Macheke (Soukuna 46′).