AmaZulu 0-1 Mamelodi Sundowns
ZIMBABWE striker Cuthbert Malajila scored as Mamelodi Sundowns won 1-0 at AmaZulu Tuesday to close the gap behind South African Premiership leaders Kaizer Chiefs to 10 points.
Mamelodi Sundowns came into this clash looking to close the gap between them and log leaders Kaizer Chiefs, while AmaZulu desperately needed maximum points to keep their survival hopes alive.
The home side had a better start to the first half, with several good opportunities in the opening 10 minutes, but Sundowns put them under pressure for the better part of the half as soon as they started defending too deep.
Kudakwashe Mahachi came close to breaking the deadlock in the 33rd minute, only for his left-footed shot to strike the woodwork on its way out for a goal-kick for what the last chance of the first 45 minutes.
Malajila, whose career took him from Zimbabwe to Tunisia and Libya before arriving in South Africa three years ago, then struck what turned out to be the winner on 54 minutes in Indian Ocean city Durban.
A great run by South Africa midfielder Themba Zwane created an opening for the Zimbabwean, who scored with a low shot across goalkeeper Aubrey Mathibe into the far corner.
It was Malajila’s eighth goal of the season
Another Sundowns midfielder, Teko Modise, was foiled by the woodwork soon after, while Bongi Ntuli had a stoppage-time chance to equalise but headed wide from a corner.
Title-holders Sundowns edged ahead of Wits on goal difference into second place, and have played one game less than recently faltering Chiefs.
“We ground out a victory,” boasted Sundowns coch Pitso Mosimane, “using our experience and ability to take a chance.”
Bottom club AmaZulu are nine points adrift of Platinum Stars with 11 games left, raising fears of no top-flight football club next season in the third largest South African city.
“It is a recurring nightmare,” admitted coach Steve Barker. “We work so hard but have nothing to show for our efforts after conceding a soft goal.”