AmaZulu’s hunt for a first win in the 2019/20 Absa Premiership goes on after they were narrowly beaten by Kaizer Chiefs at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Tuesday.
Usuthu put up a brave performance under new coach Josef Vukusic, but ultimately the Amakhosi emerged 2-0 victors thanks to late goals from Leonardo Castro and Khama Billiat.
Chiefs started well and should have claimed the leas as early as the fifth minute, with Lebogang Manyama shooting over from close range after being picked out with a low cross from Reeve Frosler.
The right-back was a key driving force behind the visitors’ attack, with the Amakhosi dictating terms for most of the first half hour of play.
However, AmaZulu soon settled into a rhythm and began to threaten in attack, with Siyethemba Sithebe dragging a shot wide in the 34th minute, while Itumeleng Khune was called into his first save of the season when he kept out a header from Ovidy Karuru a short while later.
Chiefs had to make two forced substitutions around the half-time interval, with striker Samir Nurkovic (who sustained a nasty cut to the head in a clash with Tshepo Gumede) replaced by Leonardo Castro just before the break, while a few minutes after the restart Frosler succumbed to injury and made way for Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya.
Khune made another save of significance in the 53rd minute, reacting sharply to turn away a powerful drive from the edge of box by Sithebe which threatened to sneak past the goalkeeper at his near post.
Chiefs attacker Khama Billiat had two great chances to break the deadlock just after the hour mark: in the first he chipped a shot beyond Siyabonga Mbatha but the ball skipped just wide of the target, while the second saw the goalkeeper make a fine save to deny the Zimbabwean forward.
In the next 10 minutes AmaZulu had two goals ruled out for offside, with television replays suggesting that both were narrowly incorrect calls from the referee’s assistant, while Chiefs had yet another injury-enforced change with just under a quarter hour remaining when Ntiya-Ntiya was replaced by Dumisani Zuma.
The match looked on course for a stalemate but Chiefs finally broke through in the 84th minute: Manyama’s shot direct from a free kick rebounded off the post and bounced toward Castro, who reacted well to control the ball before stabbing a shot into the net.
Usuthu threw men forward in the dying minutes in an attempt to level the game and were cruelly hit on the counter attack in injury time, with Billiat racing free before steering a low shot past the helpless Mbatha to seal a 2-0 win for the Soweto giants.
The teams will return to Absa Premiership action this coming Saturday evening, with Chiefs at home to Baroka FC and AmaZulu away to SuperSport United.
Kaizer Chiefs (0) 2 (Castro 84’, Billiat 90+3’)
AmaZulu: Mbatha, Sikhakhane, M. Gumede, Xoki, T. Gumede, Darpoh, Morton (Ngoveni 89’), Sithebe, Maduna (Chawapiwa 63’), Karuru (Ncube 79’), Ntuli
Chiefs: Khune, Frosler (Ntiya-Ntiya 52’ [Zuma 76’]), Mathoho, Cardoso, Sasman, Parker, Baccus, Maluleka, Billiat, Manyama, Nurkovic (Castro 44’)Share