South Africa

Baroka dent AmaZulu’s title ambitions

Baroka pulled off a much needed 1-0 win over fancied AmaZulu during their exciting Premier Soccer League encounter at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Tuesday.

With this result Usuthu saw their impressive 16-match unbeaten run come to an end while Baroka have boosted their chances of ending the season in the top eight.

This defeat has also possibly ended AmaZulu’s outside chances of upsetting Mamelodi Sundowns, who have a game in hand and a seven-point advantage at the top of the log.

AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy, who has transformed the side since he joined in December, will be expecting a hugely improved performance in their next league outing against Orlando Pirates on May 26.

For Baroka, they have a short turnaround of matches as their next outing is the Limpopo derby against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) next Wednesday.

Baroka wasted a good opportunity to open the scoring inside three minutes when Evidence Makgopa failed to find the target from a good position after he intercepted a misplaced pass by Mbongeni Gumede.

AmaZulu twice came close to opening the scoring but Luvuyo Memela was denied by alert Baroka goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke and Lehlohonolo Majoro blasted his shot over the crossbar.

Baroka opened the scoring in style through Richard Mbulu who controlled the ball he received from Makgopa on the edge of the box before hitting home a curling shot that gave Veli Mothwa no chance after 37 minutes.

Two minutes from the break, Masuluke produced an excellent diving save to deny Majoro and at the other end of the field Makgopa watched in disbelief as his shot ricocheted off the upright with Mothwa beaten after a quick counterattack.

It was end-to-end stuff and just after the hour mark, Baroka put together a scintillating attacking move that ended with Ananias Gebhardt missing the target by not much from close range with only Mothwa to beat.

Deep during the referee’s optional time, AmaZulu camped in the Baroka half in search of the equaliser but they could not find the way past the defence of Bonginkosi Makume, Denwin Farmer and Masuluke.

• In the day’s other match Stellenbosch and Orlando Pirates played to a goalless draw at the Danie Craven Stadium.

Stellenbosch missed a slew of chances against a lacklustre Pirates who seemed to go off the boil and find themselves out of the title race in fourth spot on the table.

Bucs have the MTN8 trophy in 2020/2021, ending a six-year-drought, and are into the Caf Confederation Cup quarterfinals. But their league campaign has continued to be a mixed bag going into the final straight.

Steve Barker’s ambitious Stellenbosch are especially tough to meet in the Winelands. They were able to open Pirates almost at will in the opening half, peppering the goal with shots. 

Stellies goalkeeper Lee Langeveldt was largely inactive, and Pirates were fortunate not to go to the break at least two goals down.

The Cape side missed their first open goal when Jayden Adams's low free-kick bounced to force an awkward save from Wayne Sandilands, Nathan Sinkala’s strike on the follow-up deflected off Thulani Hlatshwayo onto the left upright and Ashley du Preez hitting over the bar with the net exposed.

Pirates finally managed a clear chance, and it was a good one, Kabelo Dlamini’s free-kick from the right rattling the crossbar.

Seeking to introduce fluency, Zinnbauer made a triple change, Ben Motshwari, Vincent Pule and Fortune Makaringe replacing Mabaso, Dlamini and Nkanyiso Zungu. But it was all to no avail as both sides pocketed a point for the afternoon’s work.

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