Arrows hold Sundowns to allow Usuthu to close in
Big AmaZulu win over City narrows gap to one point
As second-placed AmaZulu humiliated Cape Town City 5-1 in a synchronised match in Cape Town yesterday, Mamelodi Sundowns' goalless draw against third-placed Golden Arrows at Loftus Versfeld Stadium may have just blew the title race wide open.
AmaZulu are now on 47 points, one adrift of leaders Sundowns, who have two games in hand. The Brazilians' recent regression coupled with Usuthu's resurgence could be a recipe for an exhilarating title run-in.
The hosts made four alterations from the XI that suffered a shock 2-1 defeat, their first in the league this season, at the same venue against struggling Kaizer Chiefs last Sunday.
Rushine de Reuck, Aubrey Modiba, Kermit Erasmus and Siphelele Mkhulise started in the slots that were previously occupied by Brian Onyango, Lyle Lakay, Gift Motupa and Gaston Sirino respectively.
For Arrows, three players in Zolani Nkombelo, Nduduzo Sibiya and Matome Mathiane, who all started in the past game that ended goalless at Chippa United last Sunday, settled for spots on the bench as Devine Lunga, Pule Mmodi and Nkosinathi Sibisi started ahead of them yesterday.
The first half saw both teams go all out, attempting to score. As evenly-balanced as the first period was, Arrows created better scoring chances and at times forced Sundowns defenders to make mistakes at the back. Arrows' pressure put the likes of Mosa Lebusa and Rivaldo Coetzee under a lot of pressure. The duo nearly scored own goals in the first half.
Arrows defender Thabani Zuke and Sibisi gave Erasmus no breathing space whenever his teammates tried to tee him up. The midfield battle between Downs' Andile Jali and his Arrows counterpart Seth Parusnath was fascinating. Jali won more one-versus-one situations in the engine room, leaving the visitors' players with no choice but to foul him.
In Cape Town, Benni McCarthy's Usuthu took full advantage to move within one point of Downs, with goals from Augustine Mulenga, Tapelo Nyongo (penalty), Lehlohonolo Majoro, Luvuyo Memela (penalty) and Siyethemba Sithebe ensuring a handsome 5-1 win over City.
Victory was all the sweeter for McCarthy, who was sacked by the Cape side two years ago and has now resurrected his coaching career at AmaZulu, who are now firmly among the title contenders.
In another game, TS Galaxy beat Baroka 1-0 to move into the top eight.