AmaZulu were unlucky to lose 1-0 to Kaizer Chiefs in a DStv Premiership clash at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium in Durban on Wednesday afternoon.
Usuthu put up a dominant performance after going behind to an early goal from the Amakhosi’s Samir Nurkovic, but ultimately were unable to find a way back into the game.
The result, AmaZulu’s fourth loss of the season, sees them remain in ninth place on the log on 10 points, now ahead of Chiefs only on goal difference.
The hosts put together the first genuine goal threat, with Augustine Mulenga finding space in the penalty area before skewing a left-footed shot wide of the target in the seventh minute.
Four minutes later Chiefs claimed the lead with their first attack. A Dumisani Zuma cross was deflected into the path of Samir Nurkovic, who swept home a low shot to score in his first start of the season.
Usuthu responded well to going behind and put together some promising passages of play in the final third, though often their attackers found themselves facing a wall of gold-and-black-clad players in the penalty area.
The feisty and physical first half – which saw Nurkovic and Tapelo Xoki literally go head-to-head in a heated confrontation in the dying minutes – ended 1-0 in favour of the Amakhosi.
Chiefs were the first to shuffle their pack in the second half, replacing Mashiane (who finally succumbed to the various knocks he suffered) with Lazarous Kambole, but it was the team in green which enjoyed early dominance after the restart.
AmaZulu also looked to shake things up when Luvoyo Memela rose off the bench to replace Xola Mlambo just after the hour mark, and they nearly levelled the game a short while later with a glancing header from Xoki which flashed just wide of the target.
On 77 minutes AmaZulu substitute Lehlohonolo Majoro looked for an equaliser, but he saw his low effort well smothered by Chiefs goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, as the Soweto side continued to hang onto their lead.
Usuthu continued to push and probe in attack, but a breakthrough never arrived for the hosts, allowing Chiefs to claim a three-pointer which will come as a huge relief given their struggling campaign thus far.
AmaZulu will be back in DStv Premiership action on Sunday 17 January with a home match against KwaZulu-Natal rivals Maritzburg United.
Kaizer Chiefs (1) 1 (Nurkovic 11’)
AmaZulu: Mothwa, Sikhakhane, Xoki, Mzava, Gumede, Mlambo (Memela 61’), Makhaula (Ncube 82’), Sithebe, Mulenga, Chawapiwa (Majoro 75’), Mthembu
Chiefs: Akpeyi, Ngezana (Ngcobo 89’), Mphahlele, Cardoso, Zulu, Zuma (Moleko 89’), Matsheke (Baccus 74’), Agay, Mashiane (Kambole 50’), Parker (Blom 74’) NurkovicShare