AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy will no doubt be feeling frustrated despite his team earning a point in their 1-1 draw with Bloemfontein Celtic.
DURBAN – AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy will no doubt be feeling frustrated despite his team earning a point in their 1-1 draw with Bloemfontein Celtic at the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium on Sunday.
Usuthu showed good organisation in the opening 20 minutes of the game and were arguably the better side in the first half.
The KwaZulu-Natal club instead wasted their chances. Midfielder Siyethemba Sithebe, in particular, had enough chances to secure himself a hat-trick but was shooting as though he was taking conversion kicks in rugby.
It took a piece of individual brilliance from the in-form Augustine Mulenga in the 64th minute to earn AmaZulu a point.
The Zambian international performed a Ryan Giggs like dribble past the Celtic defenders before slotting beyond the reach of goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane.
“It was a very tough game. The heat did not help the cause but the boys did their best and gave it a go. In the first 30 minutes, we had a lot of opportunities. If we took our chances, it would have been a completely different game,” said McCarthy.
“Eventually a brilliant piece of skill from Memela brought us level. There was a lot of opportunities for us to get ahead but in these conditions, getting a draw was OK.”
Celtic took the lead in the 33rd minute after a pin-point cross from Lantshene Phalane was met with the head of Mzwanele Mahashe. The 34-year-old showed his experience by delivering a world-class header which would have given no goalkeeper in the world a chance of saving.
There is no doubt that Celtic coach John Maduka will also feel that his team should have walked away with the three points. AmaZulu appeared to be struggling to play in the conditions for parts of the game and Phunya Sele Sele had an opportunity to go 2-0 up from the penalty spot on the stroke of halftime.
Tsepo Masilela gifted Celtic a penalty following a pull on Celtic captain Ndumiso Mabena. Mabena subsequently blasted the resulting penalty over the bar.
“We could have done better. We should have got three points. We had a lot of chances in the final third. If you look at the game, we started slow but picked it up after we got the goal. There was a lack of opportunity, but we allowed them to get the goal. Going forward, we need to be clinical in front of goal and bury our chances. It was two good teams playing an open game,” said Celtic coach Maduka.
AmaZulu made a surprise substitution at the start of the second half as the in-form Luvuyo Memela was replaced by Talent Chawapiwa. Speaking after the game, McCarthy confirmed that it was a tactical decision and that Memela’s sub-par display in the first half is likely to have been influenced by the passing away of his aunt.