AmaZulu hold Pirates to a draw
Philani Zikalala (Backpage Images)
Soweto - AmaZulu shrugged aside their disappointing form at the start of the season to hold Absa Premiership champions Orlando Pirates to a goalless draw at Orlando Stadium on Sunday.
Usuthu needed goalkeeper Philani Zikalala to make a couple of excellent saves, as Bucs generally dominated play and created the better scoring chances, but the Durban side deserved the point they picked up.
The first half saw little in the way of goalmouth action, with neither Zikalala nor Moeneeb Josephs called upon to make any kind of notable save.
Josephs had one nervy moment when a poor back-pass from Rooi Mahamutsa
nearly allowed Ayanda Dlamini in, while Zikalala also had a bit of a walkabout from his posts where he needed to make a desperate challenge to make sure he wasn’t caught out.
The defences definitely had the best of the first 45 minutes, with neither attack able to get out of second gear as the teams cancelled each other out in the middle of the park.
Pirates opted for a change at the start of the second half, sending on Tlou Segolela for the ineffectual Mpho Makola, and the quick winger spiced up their attack.
However, AmaZulu very nearly took the lead on 49 minutes when a Marc Van Heerden free kick hit caught Josephs by surprise and struck him on the head - luckily for the ‘keeper the ball deflected over the top for a corner.
On 63 minutes Segolela aimed a curling shot for the top corner of the net, but Zikakala pulled off an excellent save to tip the ball over the top of the bar. Three minutes later Collins Mbesuma threatened with a quick turn and shot, but Van Heerden made a brave block.
With just over 10 minutes to play Zikalala pulled off another fine to keep out a well-hit long range effort from Oupa Manyisa
that looked destined to ripple the back of the net as soon as it left the midfielder’s right boot.
Pirates’ best chance to win the game arrived in the 88th minute when Zikalala came off his line for a cross but didn’t claim it, with the ball falling kindly for Sifiso Myeni
, but the winger spooned his effort over the crossbar.
AmaZulu very nearly stole the game against the run of play in injury time through a Van Heerden free kick that needed Josephs to make an excellent diving save to keep it out.