Durban - Maritzburg United continued their recent dominance over AmaZulu in
the KwaZulu-Natal derby with a comfortable 2-0 victory in a Premiership contest
at a cold Moses Mabhida Stadium here on Sunday afternoon.
After a dour first half, a Marc van Heerden own goal brought the game to
life after 46 minutes - the defender diverting Yakubu Mohammed's wayward shot
past a helpless Tapuwa Kapini.
Thokozani Sekotlong then added a fine second from the angle to seal a first
win for new Team of Choice coach Clinton Larsen.
After a quiet start, United midfielder Thamsanqa Mkhize was the first player
to make any sort of attacking headway when he charged into the box, before
being closed out by a defender.
From the resulting corner Mohammed Awal had some space in the box, but
The hosts, who had won just one meeting between the sides in 10 previous
outings, did manage to slowly start finding their footing in the game, but it
was again the visitors that created another moment of substance midway through
Dillon Sheppard and Sekotlong combined on the left, with the latter
collecting an inside pass and firing in a promising shot that whisked wide.
AmaZulu finally had a first real opening on the half-hour when Van Heerden
swung over a free-kick from the left, but Sadney Urikhob planted a free-header
from the edge of the six-yard area wide.
In the 38th minute an even better chance arrived when Bafana Bafana defender
Van Heerden's 20-yard free-kick flew low through the wall and forced Shu-Aib
Walters to save to his left to turn the ball away for a corner.
Urikhob then had a chance to redeem himself before the break, but failed to
find either of the two men lining up shots just inside the box.
And at the other end the Maritzburg forwards were guilty of failing to track
Frank Sarfo Gyamfi's strong run and cross that skidded tantalisingly across the
face of goal.
It was goalless at the break, but straight after the restart, the visitors
hit the front when Sekotlong played the ball into the feet of Yakubu from the
left, with the Ghanaian shrugging off his man and firing in a shot that
appeared to be headed wide, but for a strong foot from Van Heerden.
The lead was then doubled on the hour mark when Ryan de Jongh broke free
down the middle on the counter-attack and rolled the ball wide to the left to
Sekotlong, who beat Kapini with a fine curled effort into the right corner.
A shell-shocked Usuthu tried to respond via long-range efforts from Kulegani
Madondo and Nkosinathi Mthiyane that flew wide, while Yakubu almost added a
third with a stinging long-range strike.
Sthembiso Ngcobo and Goodman Dlamini then had further chances from inside
the area in the closing stages for the hosts, but failed to take them as
Larsen's men eased to victory.