AmaZulu and Orlando Pirates went toe to toe like two boxers on the offensive in an exciting 1-1 Absa Premiership draw at King Zwelithini Stadium on Saturday night.
Augustine Mulenga struck to give Pirates the lead in the 14th minute, Emiliano Tade equalising for Usuthu in the 49th.
Pirates suffered a setback before kickoff, with goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane pulling up with a calf injury in the warm-up and having to be replaced in the starting lineup by Jackson Mabokgwane.
Neither Bucs coach Milutin Sredojevic nor his AmaZulu counterpart Cavin Johnson are know for having their teams sit back. Their uncompromising emphasis on attack made for an entertaining matchup.
Again, though. Pirates produced a schizophrenic performance. As has been their pattern of late, Bucs largely dominated the first half, then became nervy in the second.
Not that AmaZulu were able to in turn dominate the second half. After Tade’s equaliser, the two teams matched each other blow for blow.
Bucs’ coaching staff of Milutin Sredojevic and Rhulani Mokwane will be scratching their heads at how to solve their team’s nerviness defending a lead.
AmaZulu picked up a valuable point, and might have had three, but still face a demoralising game of catch-up avoiding a relegation battle having had six points docked by Fifa last week for ignoring a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling regarding their Namibian ex-player Phinheas Nambandi.
Again it was Pirates who came out fired up in the first half, where they might have had two goals, not one.
Bucs took an early lead from a clinically-taken goal. Innocent Maela’s throughpass down the left was aimed at the run of Justin Shonga, but intercepted by Thembinkosi Lorch. The forward in turn put Mulenga through to slam a finish emphatically past goalkeeper Siyabonga Mbatha.
Pirates had two more chances as the half drew to a close.
Xola Mlambo latched onto a half-clearance and struck powerfully inside the right upright, Mbatha getting across for a solid save.
Justin Shonga was played into the area by Musa Nyatama but curled a shot round Mbatha’s right post.
Again, as has been their pattern in their last three games, having dominate the opening 45 minutes Pirates became nervy and seemed not to know how to press home an advantage in the second.
It took just four minutes from returning from the change rooms for AmaZulu’s Argentine striker Emiliano Tade to get his second PSL goal.
Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic had tinkered disrupted his defence bringing Diamond Thopola for Ntsikelelo Nyauza at right-back.
Jabulani Ncobeni shiboboed Thopola, took a return pass from and was dispossessed by Jele, Tade gratefully latching onto the loose ball and striking Usuthu’s equaliser.
Almost immediately Brazilian centreback Marcelo Da Silva’s ball over the top found Shonga’s run to beat offside, with the Zambian unable to beat Mbatha.
Tade’s swerving free-kick forced an awkward save from Mabokgwane. Then the Argentine took the ball off Nyatama to burst through and square to Bongonkosi Ntuli, this time Mabokgwane making a far more convincing stop.
Innocent Maela’s cross just after the hour found Shonga free at the far post to acrobatically connect with an outrstretched leg onto the right upright.
Lorch beat Sadate Ouro-Akoriko down the right and squared, somehow Shonga, who could have had a second-half hat trick, somehow making a connection that did notr even finish inside the corner flag.
Tade then struck another free-kick, this time from further out, with even more venom, Mabokgwane making the diving, one-handed save.
Other PSL results:
Free State Stars 2-0 Bloemfontein Celtic
Highlands Park 2-1 Chippa United