DURBAN – A five-goal feast ended in favour of Polokwane City as AmaZulu surrendered their unbeaten home record in a 3-2 defeat in a return to Absa Premiership action at the King Zwelithini Stadium in uMlazi on Wednesday night.
The Durban side lost for the first time in five matches at home, while Polokwane won for the first time in six appearances.
The first half was dominated by free-kicks on goal. AmaZulu had two on target, and both times goalkeeper George Chigova fisted away thunderous drives by Usuthu’s Rhulani Manzini.
In between, Polokwane had their opportunity, and left back Ndivhuwo Ravhuhali snapped it up with a bolt of a shot that hit the upright and went in past goalkeeper Siyabonga Mbatha.
Manzini, with three goals from AmaZulu’s last two outings, wasn’t affected by the international break.
The stocky striker gave the home team an outlet to attack and he held the ball up, and brought in midfielders Boysen Mbatha and secondary striker Mhlengi Cele, but for all their possession, the men in green went into the break 1-0 down.
The longer the clash went on, the stronger Polokwane grew, helped in good measure by striker Rodney Ramagalela’s perseverance and playmaker Jabulani Maluleke’s eye for a counter.
Defensively, Polokwane weren’t made to sweat by AmaZulu’s lack of decisiveness and wastefulness in the final third.
The possession pie looked more balanced in the second half as chances accrued to Rendani Ndou and Ramagalela.
Usuthu’s best offering was from Manzini, again from dead-ball play. Granted another free shot, he was third time lucky with a blistering curling effort that this time gave Chigova no chance.
After the earlier misses, this 53rd-minute equaliser was worth celebrating. Besides the ferocity of the strike, the goal marked Manzini’s fourth in three outings.
However, they hardly settled back into the action and Polokwane were ahead two minutes later. Walter Musona finished a counter-attack after Ndou’s effort was smothered.
With the minutes disappearing, Polokwane looked increasingly good value for a first win in six league assignments.
They contained AmaZulu, despite a double attacking change. Veteran Siyabonga Nomvete and youngster Somila Ntsundwana went in for Boysen Mbatha and Manzini respectively.
However, the visitors’ substitute, Bingile Booi, made the first impact, putting Ramagalela through for their third in the 85th minute.
AmaZulu’s late rally produced a second when Cele’s shot was deflected in by defender Sibusiso Mbonani in the final minute, but time ran out for the green army to strike back with an equaliser.