AmaZulu suffered a narrow 1-0 loss at the hands of Orlando Pirates in their Nedbank Cup last 32 tie played at the Orlando Stadium on Sunday.
Usuthu put up a battling effort in Soweto, but were undone by a defensive lapse early in the second half which allowed the Buccaneers’ Deon Hotto to score the only goal of the match.
The first chance of the game went Pirates’ way in the ninth minute, with Deon Hotto’s corner kick drawing AmaZulu’s Veli Mothwa off his line, but the goalkeeper was unable to intercept – Goodman Mosele then had a header deeper in the penalty area but was unable to direct an effort on target.
Midway through the first half AmaZulu were denied a strong shout for a penalty, with Mosele seemingly guilty of handling the ball just inside the box as part of a challenge against Augustine Mulenga. Referee Masixole Bambiso blew his whistle but did not award a spot kick – instead he restarted the game with a dropped-ball where the incident took place.
No further clear chances were created at either end through the remainder of the first 45 minutes, leaving the teams locked at 0-0 heading into the interval.
Pirates had been the more proactive team through the first half and they picked up where they left off after the restart, breaking the deadlock on 53 minutes through Deon Hotto.
The Namibian picked up the ball on the left after what appeared to be a poorly-worked short corner kick, but he drove infield and forward before exchanging passes with Ntsako Makhubela and volleying home on the turn for 1-0.
AmaZulu looked for a reply through Mulenga on 65 minutes, but the attacker’s drive from the edge of the box was safely held by goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane.
Six minutes later the Durban side introduced Thabo Qalinge and debutant Abraham Majok – the first South Sudanese player to feature in the PSL – off the bench in an effort to bring themselves back into the match.
Yet on 76 minutes the Buccaneers should have doubled their lead, with Thembinkosi Lorch’s precise delivery from a free kick on the left flank setting up Olisa Ndah with a chance at the far post, but the Nigerian put his effort off target.
Four minutes later Pirates substitute Zakhele Lepasa played a great pass to set up Lorch with a chance at close range, but Mothwa made a sharp reaction save with his right hand to keep his side in the game.
AmaZulu were given a path back to level terms when they were awarded a penalty in the 87th minute – with substitute Abel Mabaso adjudged to have handled the ball after an aerial challenge with Majok – but Tapelo Xoki’s spot kick was turned away by Mpontshane to seal victory for Bucs.
AmaZulu will next be in DStv Premiership action, hosting TS Galaxy at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday 22 February.
Orlando Pirates (0) 1 (Hotto 53’)
Pirates: Mpontshane, Shandu (Mabaso 82’), Jele, Ndah, Mako, Monare (Motshwari 82’), Mosele, Makhubela (Makaringe 68’), Lorch (Maela 90+2’), Hotto, Peprah (Lepasa 68’)
AmaZulu: Mothwa, M. Gumede, Khumalo, Xoki, Malepe (Moremi 90+3’), Ceesay (Qalinge 71’), Makhaula, Buchanan, Memela, Ntuli (Majok 71’), Mulenga