AmaZulu will be plotting another course to the CAF Champions League quarter-finals after a 2-0 defeat to ES Setif at Stade du 5 Juillet 1962 on Saturday night.
Benni McCarthy’s side were trailing as early as the 11th minute in Algeria when Riad Benayad opened the scoring and their task was made that much harder after Akram Djahnit doubled the Black Eagles’ lead on the stroke of half-time.
Bonginkosi Ntuli was denied by the frame of the goal in the second half, but the hosts held firm in defence to secure victory which took them above Usuthu into second place, albeit level on four points in Group B.
The KZN outfit survived an early scare when Zoubir Motrani blasted high and wide of the near post from inside the area on the left in the opening minute.
However, they went behind on 11 minutes as Benayad latched onto a through-ball from Ahmed Kendouci and placed his shot into the bottom left corner of the net from outside the box.
Benayad threatened to double the hosts’ lead on 25 minutes after being picked out by Zoubir Motrani inside the area, but Veli Mothwa was on hand to keep him out.
AmaZulu’s first sniff at goal arrived just before the half-hour mark when Thembela Sikhakhane connected with Keagan Buchanan’s free-kick to steer his shot just past the left post, while Luvuyo Memela wasn’t far away from restoring parity from a set-piece on the edge of the box that flew narrowly over the crossbar on 38 minutes.
Mothwa was given more work to do in the closing stages of the first half as he denied Benayad from long range in the 43rd minute and saved another effort from Benayad three minutes later, only to be beaten by Djahnit on rebound.
Benayad was proving to be a handful for the visitors and he went close again one minute after the restart with a strike from outside the area that flashed just wide of the left post.
Ntuli was unfortunate to see his shot from inside the box come crashing back off the crossbar on 56 minutes and Tapelo Xoki directed a header over the bar eight minutes later as the DStv Premiership club went in search of an equaliser.
Ntuli was presented with another chance on 75 minutes, but he failed to test Sofiane Khedairia with another header that went wide of the left post.
Mothwa prevented Redha Bendris’ men from extending their lead at the death with two saves in the space of two minutes to deny Abdelhak Debbari and Djahnit.
ES Setif (2) 2 (Benayad 11′, Djahnit 45+1′)
AmaZulu (0) 0
ES Setif: S. Khedairia, A. Debbari, A. Nemdil, H. Belkaroui (I. Hachoud 74′), H. Ferhani, A. Boutiche, A. Kendouci, A. Deghmoum (M. Bakrar 90+2′), A. Djahnit, R. Benayad, Z. Motrani (I. Farhi 67′).
AmaZulu: V. Mothwa, T. Sikhakhane, M. Gumede, T. Xoki, R. Malepe, L. Memela, K. Buchanan (X. Mlambo 68′), M. Makhaula, M. Ceesay (A. de Jong 46′), S. Mthembu (B. Ntuli 46′), A. Mulenga (A. Majok 89′).