Relegated Mpumalanga Black Aces produced top-drawer football when they beat AmaZulu 3-2 in a quarterfinal of the Nedbank Cup clash played at King Zwelithini Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Aces’ goals came from the boots of Warren Bishop, Marawaan Bantam, and Mangoba Ngwenya, while Amazulu scored via the shape of Goodman Dlamini and an own goal by Aces’ defender, Thabang Rooi.
Despite Aces’ certain drop to the first division which was followed by the death of the club’s life president, Laki Marfou, Aces played their hearts out in this no-holds barred affair before an appreciative crowd and deserved to win.
The game had the makings of a cup final. It was played at a fast pace with both sides aiming for an early lead and the crowd was not disappointed Usuthu’s Ayanda Dlamini, Tangeni Shipahu, and Goodman Dlamini tormented the Aces defence, while Joseph Makhanya, Marawaan Bantam, and Lindokuhle Mbatha combined well for AmaZayoni.
The game lived up to expectations as both clubs were gunning for the winner. Spearheaded by strikers, Dlamini and Lehlohonolo Majoro, playing at home in front of their supporters, AmaZulu were in mean mood but their dream of advancing to the next stage suffered a serious blow.
The home side had an upper hand in the first six minutes of the game but Aces gained the momentum as the game progressed and were not mere spectators as they also made inroads searching for an opener.
Bishop breathed some life into the game with a goal in the eighth minute, breaking the deadlock after connecting with a Joseph Makhanya corner kick.
However Goodman Dlamini was quick to respond with an equalizer in the 17th minute. After the goal, AmaZulu used the width of the pitch to their advantage in their bid to unlock the solid Aces defence led by Rooi, but seemed to run out of ideas on entering the Aces’ danger area.
Nevertheless, the Witbank side looked more determined side to score the second and it came as no surprise when Bantam beat Mbongeni Mzimela with a low shot after being set up by Makhanya in the 37th minute to put his side in the driving seat for the second time.
Credit should also go to Usuthu’s keeper, Mzimela, the busier compared to his counterpart at Aces. The AmaZulu goal-minder made some dramatic saves in the last minutes of the first half avoiding his team the embarrassment of going to the break with more than two goals down.
As a result, the status quo remained the same at half time. The KZN side came back from the break highly spirited and were awarded a penalty after Bishop fouled Ayanda Dlamini in the 53rd minute. However, the latter might have thought his Gods had turned their backs on him after his shot was saved by Denis Onyango – who made sure his side remained in the driving seat.
Towards the end of the game, the Durban team resorted to defensive tactics to keep the marauding Aces at bay, but that did not stop AmaZayoni from launching one attack after the other and were finally rewarded when Ngwenya scored the third in the 67th minute, to put the game beyond AmaZulu reach.
Ngwenya could only watch in disbelief after what could have been his second for the day and fourth for his team hit the upright in the 80th minute.
Two minutes later, in an attempt to clear a Bongane Mbele’s shot, Aces’ defender, Rooi deflected the ball into his own net.-PSL Website