Durban – Luvuyo Memela’s second goal of the season helped AmaZulu earn a hard-fought 1-0 win over TS Galaxy at the Mbombela Stadium in Limpopo on Tuesday night.
Usuthu’s goal came in the 56th minute as left full-back Tercious Malepe unselfishly rolled the ball to Memela who used his experience to produce a cool finish into the back of the net.
Benni McCarthy’s side created their fair share of chances in the first half but simply lacked cutting edge in the final third. They had two very good opportunities to find the back of the net in the opening 45 minutes.
The first was in the 12th minute as Siyethemba Sithebe found Augustine Mulenga with a cross but after meeting the ball, the Zambian ended up hitting the post with his shot.
McCarthy opted to rest star striker Bongi Ntuli in the first half, probably in order to use him for the upcoming Champions League game against TP Mazembe this weekend with veteran Siphelele Mthembu being handed a start instead.
The 34-year-old Mthembu was guilty of missing a sitter just after the half-hour mark after being teed in by Sithebe. His shot simply lacked power when all he needed to do was direct it on target with decent power. While Galaxy goalkeeper Vasilije Kolak was beaten, the lack of pace on the ball allowed Galaxy defender Pogiso Sanoka to clear near his goal line.
It was hardly surprising that McCarthy opted to withdraw Mthembu ahead of the second half and replace him with Ntuli.
Galaxy did come close to equalizing midway through the first half but AmaZulu captain and engine Makhehlene Makhaula read the game well to produce a vital goal-line clearance.
Meanwhile, the result means that TS Galaxy remains without a win and rooted to the bottom of the standings. They had to make do without the services of key player Ethan Brooks due to injury. Sanoka also earned his second red-card of the season deep into the second half.
The Rockets now have to prepare for an away trip to Maritzburg United on Saturday afternoon.
AmaZulu will now have to aim to do something few are able to and down TP Mazembe in their own home turf on Saturday in the CAF Champions League second preliminary round second leg in Congo. The first leg in Durban ended 0-0 last week which left the Durban-based side with hard work to do away from home.