Durban — Augustine Mulenga came off the bench to score the winner as AmaZulu shocked Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 and inflicted a first league defeat on the defending champions at the Jonsson Kings Park Stadium on Monday night.
Usuthu broke from the middle of the park and Luvuyo Memela played an inch-perfect through ball to put Mulenga one-on-one with the Sundowns goalkeeper, Dennis Onyango, the Zambian international kept his composure and place the ball past the goalkeeper and put the home side 1-0 up.
Last season’s first and second placed teams met under contrasting circumstances this time around with Sundowns riding an 23 game unbeaten streak in the league that stemmed all the way to last season.
Bafana Ba Style were aiming to extend the new PSL calendar-year points record (which they set) with Peter Shalulile also chasing a new goals record of 25+ goals in a calendar year.
Usuthu ,who recently broke their seven-game draw streak in the league last time out against Marumo Gallants, lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with Benni McCarthy’s men looking to exert pressure on the reigning champions’ defence.
The home side were almost taken back to their last game at the Jonsson Kings Stadium as a goalkeeping error gifted the Brazilians an early opportunity in the second minute.
Neil Boshoff, who was starting his second game in a row, gifted the ball to Pavol Safranko just outside the box, the Slovakian international threaded a ball to Siphelele Mkhulise who wastefully shot over the bar from close range.
Dennis Onyango had to be at his best to deny Thabo Qalinge in the 19th minute. The former Orlando Pirates man snatched onto a loose ball from outside the box and curled his effort towards the far post but Onyango was alive to it as he stretched and turned the shot away for a corner.
The away side, as expected, dominated most of the possession in the opening half an hour with AmaZulu looking more dangerous on the counter.
Themba Zwane should’ve put Sundowns ahead in the 36th minute, the former Footballer of the year played a neat one-two with Mkhulise in the AmaZulu box but fired a tame shot that was easily gathered by Boshoff in goal.
The two sides raised the tempo in the second half as both outfits searched for the opener.
With the game seemingly balanced, Ricardo Nascimento almost gave Sundowns the lead through a corner in the 61st minute, the towering centre back glanced a header towards the far post after connecting well with the ball in a packed penalty area.
AmaZulu remained resolute and disciplined in the latter stages as they held on for a famous victory at home.
Sundowns will round up the year with a tricky encounter at home to Marumo Gallants on Thursday while AmaZulu are on the road to Orlando Pirates in Johannesburg.