Sunday Times

Bucs, AmaZulu make a point

- By MARC STRY­DOM Sports · AmaZulu F.C. · Orlando Pirates F.C. · Orlando · Austria · Belgium · Court of Arbitration for Sport · Siyabonga Mpontshane · Jackson Mabokgwane · Cavin Johnson · Musa Nyatama · Ntsikelelo Nyauza

● AmaZulu and Or­lando Pi­rates went toe to toe like two box­ers on the of­fen­sive in an ex­cit­ing 1-1 Absa Premier­ship draw at King Zwelithini Sta­dium last night.

Au­gus­tine Mu­lenga struck to give Pi­rates the lead in the 14th minute, Emil­iano Tade equal­is­ing for Usuthu in the 49th.

Pi­rates suf­fered a set­back be­fore kick­off, with goal­keeper Siyabonga Mpontshane pulling up with a calf in­jury in the warm-up and hav­ing to be re­placed in the start­ing lineup by Jack­son Mabokg­wane.

Nei­ther Bucs coach Mi­lutin Sre­do­je­vic nor his AmaZulu coun­ter­part Cavin John­son are known for hav­ing their teams sit back. Their un­com­pro­mis­ing em­pha­sis on at­tack made for an en­ter­tain­ing match.

Again, though, Pi­rates gave a schiz­o­phrenic per­for­mance. As has been the pat­tern of late, Bucs largely dom­i­nated the first half then be­came nervy in the sec­ond.

Not that AmaZulu were able to dom­i­nate the sec­ond half. Af­ter Tade’s equaliser, the teams matched each other blow for blow.

Bucs’ coaches Sre­do­je­vic and Rhu­lani Mok­wane will be scratch­ing their heads at how to solve their team’s ner­vous­ness when de­fend­ing a lead.

AmaZulu picked up a valu­able point, and might have had three, but still face a de­mor­al­is­ing game of catch-up in avoid­ing a rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle, hav­ing had six points docked by Fifa last week for ig­nor­ing a Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport rul­ing re­gard­ing their Namib­ian ex-player Phin­heas Nam­bandi.

Again it was Pi­rates who came out fired up in the first half, in which they might have had two goals in­stead of just one.

Bucs took an early lead with a clin­i­cal goal. In­no­cent Maela’s through pass down the left was aimed at the run of Justin Shonga, but in­ter­cepted by Them­binkosi Lorch. The for­ward in turn put Mu­lenga through to slam a fin­ish em­phat­i­cally past goal­keeper Siyabonga Mbatha.

Pi­rates had two more chances as the half drew to a close.

Xola Mlambo latched onto a half-clear­ance and struck pow­er­fully in­side the right up­right, Mbatha get­ting across for a solid save.

Shonga was played into the area by Musa Ny­atama but curled a shot round Mbatha’s right post.

Again, as has been their pat­tern in their last three games, hav­ing dom­i­nated the open­ing 45 min­utes Pi­rates be­came nervy and seemed not to know how to press home their ad­van­tage in the sec­ond.

It took just four min­utes af­ter re­turn­ing to the pitch for AmaZulu’s Ar­gen­tine striker Emil­iano Tade to get his sec­ond PSL goal.

Pi­rates coach Mi­lutin Sre­do­je­vic had tin­kered with and dis­rupted his de­fence, bring­ing on Di­a­mond Thopola for Nt­sikelelo Nyauza at right-back.

Jab­u­lani Ncobeni shi­boboed Thopola, took a re­turn pass and was dis­pos­sessed by Jele, Tade grate­fully latch­ing onto the loose ball and strik­ing Usuthu’s equaliser.

Al­most im­me­di­ately Brazil­ian cen­tre­back Marcelo Da Silva’s ball over the top found Shonga’s run to beat the off­side trap, with the Zam­bian un­able to beat Mbatha.

Tade’s swerv­ing free kick forced an awk­ward save from Mabokg­wane. Then the Ar­gen­tine took the ball off Ny­atama to burst through and square to Bonginkosi Ntuli, this time Mabokg­wane mak­ing a far more con­vinc­ing stop.

In­no­cent Maela’s cross just af­ter the hour found Shonga free at the far post to ac­ro­bat­i­cally con­nect with an out­stretched leg onto the right up­right.

Lorch beat Sa­dat Ouro-Ako­riko down the right and squared. Some­how Shonga, who could have had a sec­ond-half hat-trick, made a con­nec­tion that did not even fin­ish in­side the cor­ner flag.

Tade then struck an­other free kick, this time from fur­ther out, with even more venom, Mabokg­wane mak­ing the div­ing, one­handed save.

 ??  ?? Goalscor­ers Au­gus­tine Mu­lenga, left, and Emil­iano Tade.
Goalscor­ers Au­gus­tine Mu­lenga, left, and Emil­iano Tade.
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