Maritzburg Utd floor AmaZulu
Pietermaritzburg - AmaZulu suffered a second successive Absa Premiership loss when they were beaten 2-0 at the Harry Gwala Stadium by KZN rivals Maritzburg United.
Usuthu suffered a heavy 6-0 defeat to Kaizer Chiefs on the opening weekend of the 2012/13 league season earlier this month, and this defeat is certainly not the response that coach Roger Palmgren would have been looking for.
The Team of Choice were deserved winners and scored both their goals through striker Cuthbert Malajila, who seems to have taken his form from the latter stages of last season into the new campaign.
The victory pushes Maritzburg to second on the log on four points, though they may lose the lofty position when the remainder of the second round matches are played on Wednesday night.
Some nerves in the AmaZulu defence almost cost them dearly early on, as goalkeeper Mbongeni Mzimela gifted the ball straight to Malajila with a poor pass, but the Zimbabwean was unable to find the target from a tight angle.
AmaZulu struggled to find any kind of rhythm in open play, with their tactic of looking for lone striker Sifiso Vilakazi with long balls failing to trouble Maritzburg’s defence. However, the former Wits striker had a decent chance on 16 minutes when he got on the end of a free kick from Prince Hlela only to put his flicked header over the crossbar.
Two minutes later the hosts threatened to open the scoring when a well-placed Delron Buckley cross allowed Malajila to set up Mthokozisi Yende with a shooting chance, but the on-loan Kaizer Chiefs midfielder pulled his effort wide of the mark.
The only shot on target in the first half came in the 33rd minute from AmaZulu right-back Tsweu Mokoro, a dipping long range effort that bounced awkwardly in front of United goalkeeper Shu-aib Walters and deflected to safety off his shoulder.
Both sides made attacking substitutions at the start of the second half. The Team of Choice withdrew David Booysen and put on Dutch-born attacker Orlando Smeekes, while Usuthu brought on Ayanda Dlamini in place of defensive midfielder Stanley Kgatla, who seemed to be struggling with injury toward the end of the first stanza.
On 65 minutes Maritzburg finally got the breakthrough that their superior play deserved. Buckley worked his way into a shooting position and tested Mzimela with a low drive - the goalkeeper kept the ball out, but Malajila reacted quickest to the rebound to score his first goal of the season.
And his second followed just 12 minutes later, as the striker sprung the offside trap, raced onto a through ball from Yende, and coolly chipped the ball past the on-rushing goalkeeper to find the back of the net via the inside of the upright.