Durban - The first official match at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium saw ten-man Maritzburg United claim a 1-0 victory over regional rivals AmaZulu in an Absa Premiership match on Sunday afternoon. Fadlu Davids scored the winning goal for the Team of Choice.
Though not a particularly memorable match, played in very wet conditions, it was a historic occasion that marked the opening of a brand new venue that will be one of the showpiece stadiums at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Maritzburg’s Brice Aka was the first to try his luck at goal with a quick turn and shot from all of 30 metres out that skidded well wide of Mbongeni Mzimela’s goal posts.
The hosts’ Sibusiso Hadebe tested Tashrique Goldman with a long range volley on 17 minutes but the Maritzburg goalkeeper made a comfortable save.
Just before the half hour mark United were reduced to 10 men when right-back Peter Petersen was shown a straight red card.
A great pass from midfield had given Hadebe a clean run on goal and he looked set to outpace Petersen, only for the defender to put his hand across the winger’s chest and haul him to ground.
Referee Charl Theron really had no other option than to show Petersen a red card, despite strong protestations from the Team of Choice.
Usuthu looked to take immediate advantage of their numerical superiority, as Marc van Heerden and Brad Ritson went close with a free kick and glancing header respectively, but the visitors soon re-organised at the back when Noah Chivuta was sacrificed for the more defensive-minded James Madidilani.
The Team of Choice showed great composure and character to frustrate AmaZulu, who obviously enjoyed the majority of possession thanks to having the extra man on the park.
The visitors were dealt a further blow ten minutes into the second half when influential winger Felix Obada had to be substituted after being stretchered off with a knee injury.
However, Maritzburg shocked AmaZulu by taking the lead with just under 20 minutes to play. A free kick from Madidilani was headed over the goal line by Fadlu Davids, only for Mzimela to haul the ball back, but Brice Aka was on hand with a mistimed volley that looped beyond the goalkeeper’s left hand and confirmed that the Pietermaritzburg-based side was 1-0 up. Defender Byron Hendricks, strangely enough, was officially credited with the goal, though it was certainly Davids who got the header.
The Team of Choice remained resolute in defence in the remainder of the game and held off Usuthu with relative comfort to claim a famous 1-0 win over their KwaZulu-Natal rivals.
Maritzburg leapfrog AmaZulu and move into 12th place.
Maritzburg United (0) 1 (Davids 71’)
AmaZulu: (4-4-2) Mzimela; Bukasa Kasongo, Mkhonza, Bishop, van Heerden; N. Zwane (Mokoro 74’), Biyela (S. Dlamini 59’), Ngxabi (A. Dlamini 50’), Hadebe; Ngwenya, Ritson
Maritzburg: (4-4-2) Goldman; Petersen, Dikilu, Hendricks, Ngwepe; Obada (Bester 55’), Phakathi, Madondo, Chivuta (Madidilani 33’); Aka (Nyatama 87’), Davids