JOHANNESBURG – Bonginkosi Ntuli continued in his pursuits to drag AmaZulu out of the hazardous relegation zone after his solitary goal against Black Leopards earned his team all three points at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
This win took Usuthu to 13th on the Premiership standings as they reached 28 points, while Leopards dropped down to 14th after a clash that could have a strong say in the relegation battle.
In a win that was inspired by Ntuli as early as the seventh minute of the start, Usuthu will be more confident heading into their last two games, where they’ll clash against Stellenbosch FC and Highlands Park respectively.
This was Ntuli’s 13th league goal this season but that his team only banged 18 strikes this campaign speaks volume of the tremendous outing that he’s had for the KwaZulu Natal-based side. For that low grasscutter that he scored against a flat-footed King Ndlovu, Ntuli was teed up by striking partner Lehlohonolo Majoro.
The latter has also been instrumental for Usuthu in their bid to escape the drop as this was his third successive contribution. Majoro scored against Bidvest Wits during Usuthu’s 2-1 loss and opened the scoring spree when Usuthu drew 2-2 with Bloemfontein Celtic.
But well, crunch time is about that: key and experienced players stepping up to the plate. Reality is that coach Ayanda Dlamini and his assistant Moeneeb Josephs are inexperienced at saving a top-flight as they were assigned to replace the recently sacked Jozef Vukusic at the 11th hour.
But against Leopards, they were up against counterparts Mongezi Bobe and Morgan Shivambu who replaced Allan Clark after he abruptly resigned during the halt, after taking over an assistant coaching post in Kosovo.
The Lidoda Duvha duo has equally been impressive since taking over the reins especially after winning their first two games against Maritzburg United and Golden Arrows respectively. They will, moreover, be hard-done by this result especially after a bright start to the second half.
Just as synonymous as it has been for AmaZulu that they’ve banked on the experience of senior players, Leopards have relied on the experience of last season’s league’s top Mwape Musonda and captain Thabo Matlaba.
The duo, alongside pacey attacker Lifa Hlongwane, looked like they’d find Leopards’ equaliser, and potential winner, whenever they sent inroads into AmaZulu’s final third but they were let down by some brilliant goalkeeping from Siyabonga Mbatha.
But while Leopards finished as the strongest team here, AmaZulu hung on for maximum points that gave them a slight breather from the chop. Pressure will now be on Polokwane City and Baroka FC who have tough fixtures against Celtic and championship hopefuls Mamelodi Sundowns this afternoon.