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WATCH: Thembela Sikhakhane rises high to end AmaZulu’s run of draws in the league

Thembela Sikhakhane of AmaZulu celebrates his goal with teammates during their DStv Premiership match against Marumo Gallants. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Thembela Sikhakhane of AmaZulu celebrates his goal with teammates during their DStv Premiership match against Marumo Gallants. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Dec 17, 2021

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Durban - AmaZulu finally ended a run of seven consecutive draws by inflicting a 1-0 home defeat on resurgent Marumo Gallants at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

Just when AmaZulu looked set for yet another stalemate, Thembela Sikhakhane rose to meet a free-kick from Keagan Buchanan in the 87th minute. The goal was the first of the season for the 28-year-old.

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ALSO READ: AmaZulu backs Benni McCarthy to deliver despite all the draws

The first half was fairly boring and predictably ended without any goals. AmaZulu tried to press while Marumo Gallants seemed to be content with the ball being in their own half even though they had more possession.

Based on how the game concluded, there is little doubt that Gallants will regret why they did not attack more in the first half.

Katlego Otladisa looked like he was a threat to Usuthu from the left and had three shots in the first half. His first was in the third minute as he forced an easy save from AmaZulu stand-in goalkeeper Neil Boshoff.

Surprisingly ever-present AmaZulu keeper Veli Mothwa did not only not start but he was neither named on the bench.

ALSO READ: It’s not a coincidence AmaZulu keep drawing games, says coach Benni McCarthy

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AmaZulu had their first real opportunity of the game in the 15th minute as Luvuyo Memela did some good work to fool opposition defenders before playing in attacking partner Lehlohonolo Majoro who subsequently wasted the opportunity that was created.

Usuthu were dealt some bad luck after the half-hour mark as they had to make an injury change. Siyethemba Sithebe was in pain and had to be withdrawn with Thabo Qalinge being introduced in his place.

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The tempo of the game started to increase a bit in the second half as both teams showed lesser signs of lethargy. Both goalkeepers were forced into alert saves early on in the second half.

Washington Arubi was first forced into a stop after Memela got a header on a free-kick. Just three minutes later, the probing Otadisa forced a stop from Boshoff.

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Due to the erratic nature of the season, the result moved Usuthu up to fourth place in the standings.

Things were not looking too promising for AmaZulu a few days ago but they now suddenly find themselves fourth in the league. Suddenly second place which the Durban-based club finished in last season may be a realistic target.

Both teams will be in action next Monday. AmaZulu host Mamelodi Sundowns at Kings Park while Gallants travel to Johannesburg to play against Orlando Pirates at the Orlando Stadium.

@eshlinv

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