Ref blunder helps AmaZulu deliver knockout blow to Sekhukhune United

Junior Dion (right) celebrates his goal with AmaZulu teammate Augustine Mulenga against Sekhukhune United in Polokwane on Thursday night. Photo: BackpagePix

Junior Dion (right) celebrates his goal with AmaZulu teammate Augustine Mulenga against Sekhukhune United in Polokwane on Thursday night. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 14, 2024


POLOKWANE: Gifts don’t come as beautifully wrapped as the one AmaZulu received at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Thursday night, and Usuthu duly accepted it to march into the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals courtesy of a 2-0 win over Sekhukhune United.

The KwaZulu-Natal outfit ended their hosts’ impressive good run of eight unbeaten home matches with a goal in each half via Junior Dion and substitute Victor Letsoalo respectively.

The opening goal just before the half-hour mark should not have been allowed to count, because Dion used his outstretched hand to direct the ball into the net.

But inexplicably, referee Lixolo Badi and his assistant Lubabalo Pitsha saw nothing wrong, and Usuthu were on their bicycle.

If the match officials could be forgiven for making that costly error – particularly given that the box was packed with players and they could well have been somewhat unsighted – there can be no excusing the second goal.

Football hara-kiri immediately comes to mind as the most appropriate phrase to describe how Sekhukhune conceded the strike that practically ended the match as a contest.

Having clearly brushed off the opening goal and asking serious questions of AmaZulu goalkeeper Veli Mothwa and his defence as they went in search of the equaliser, Sekhukhune literally pierced themselves with the arrow that ended their participation in the country’s premier club knockout competition.

Just after the half-hour mark, they had the ball in their own half and appeared to be easily initiating an attack from the back.

Tresor Tshibwabwa passed the ball back to goalkeeper Renaldo Leaner, and what should have been a a routine clearance or pass to two of his teammates to the left ended up in disaster.

The goalkeeper’s first touch was a bit too hard, and the alert substitute Letsoalo rushed in to steal possession and went round Leaner for one of the easiest goals he’ll ever score.

While they made a fight of it, Sekhukhune found Mothwa uncompromising between the AmaZulu sticks – the goalkeeper seemingly intent on showing national team coach Hugo Broos that he should not have left him out for next week’s trip to Algeria, where Bafana Bafana will play against Andorra and the hosts.

It was a lively match, with both ends teeming with numerous chances for both sides, and while their goals were gifts, Usuthu did create other opportunities to could have scored more – one of those seeing Pule Ekstein’s attempt that had goal written all over it getting blocked.

Expectedly, Sekhukhune threw everything bar the proverbial kitchen sink at their opposition, but it was just one of those games where the home team just could not score – even if the match went deep into the night.