AmaZulu suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Swallows FC in a DStv Premiership match played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night.
Usuthu, looking to avoid a second straight league defeat after falling to Stellenbosch FC prior to the international break, found themselves behind to Kagiso Malinga’s strike just before the half-hour mark and were unable to find a way back into the game.
AmaZulu remained in 10th place on 28 points, two off the top half of the table, while the Birds rise to 13th place on 27 points – six clear of the relegation playoff zone.
The hosts bossed possession in the first half but Nyatama’s men created the better chances and threatened to break the deadlock on eight minutes when Waseem Isaacs fired just wide of the left post from range.
Usuthu had their first sniff at goal moments later as Bongi Ntuli drew a routine save out of Daniel Akpeyi from inside the area before Jody February made a comfortable save after Tshediso Patjie took aim from distance in the 19th minute.
February was called into action again five minutes later when Isaacs got his head on the end of Patjie’s cross, but there was little he could do to prevent Malinga from tapping home Isaacs’ pass at close range in the 29th minute.
The KZN outfit had a great chance to restore parity five minute before half-time after Malinga brought down George Maluleka just outside the area but Sphesihle Maduna sent his free-kick wide of the right post.
AmaZulu boss Romain Folz resisted the urge to make any changes at the break but eventually brought on Guily Manziba and Rally Bwalya for Sphesihle Maduna and Tercious Malepe respectively on the hour mark after failing to carve out any openings early in the second half.
Riaan Hanamub found himself with the ball at his feet inside the box on the left moments later, although the Namibian left-back failed to keep his shot down, while Thembela Sikhakhane was also guilty of not working Akpeyi from a threatening position on 64 minutes.
Gregory Damons then spurned a decent opportunity for Swallows soon afterwards when he directed a header over the crossbar from Kwandakwensizwa Mngonyama’s cross and Patjie pushed his shot wide of the right post from inside the area on 71 minutes following a counter-attack.
The Dube Birds were indebted to Akpeyi for preserving their slender lead on 84 minutes after he pulled off a fine save to deny substitute Msindisi Ndlovu from distance, while Malinga nearly bagged a second goal in stoppage time as he dragged his shot inches past the left post from inside the box.
AmaZulu will be back in DStv Premiership action next Sunday, 9 April, with a clash away to Cape Town City.
Swallows (1) 1 (Malinga 29’)
AmaZulu: February, Sikhakhane, Gumede, Zulu, Hanamub, Maduna (Manziba 59’), Maluleka, Malepe (Bwalya 59’), Qalinge (Ndlovu 67’), Dion, Ntuli (Majoro 68’)
Swallows: Akpeyi, Damons (Sasman 85’), Mngonyama, Allan, Sait, Sam, Mtshali (Macheke 79’), Mthethwa, Patjie (Shwabule 79’), Malinga, Mtshali, Isaacs (Matsheke 62’)