AmaZulu and Mamelodi Sundowns played to a goal-less draw in a highly absorbing league encounter at the Kings Park Stadium in Durban on Wednesday afternoon.
By no means was this a lacklustre game. Rather it was, at times, ill-tempered, and mostly action-packed and played at a cracking tempo.
Downs dominated possession early on but never really troubled the AmaZulu defence – there was a 10th-minute effort from Thapelo Morena which was slashed wide, while Peter Shalulile wasn’t too far off with a 26th-minute shot which he dragged slightly wide of the near post after he had done well to make space to pull the trigger.
There was also a penalty appeal for the Brazilians after Zukile Kewuti tangled with Gaston Sirino just inside the AmaZulu box and while there appeared to be some contact made by the Usuthu man, it probably wasn’t sufficient for the spot-kick.
The hosts meanwhile were by no means being overawed and they grew into the match as it went past the 30 minute park.
The KwaZulu-Natal team’s best moment of the opening stanza came a couple of minutes before the interval as Thabo Qalinge ran onto a pass from Siyethemba Sithebe before cutting inside and firing a curling shot just over Denis Onyango’s goal.
As if the first half had not been entertaining enough, the intensity was to go up a couple of notches after the restart.
First it was AmaZulu – Qalinge had a shot blocked by Onyango and then Augustine Mulenga smashed a low shot against the foot of the post after cutting into the box.
Moments later Masandawana had taken the ball up-field through Shalulile, who combined first with Sirino and then teed up Themba Zwane, but from a good position his shot was far too tame to test Veli Mothwa.
The game remained on a knife-edge before the next clear chance came in the 74th minute – some quick thinking from Morena saw him releasing Gift Motupa down the right wing. Motupa squared for fellow substitute Aubrey Modiba, who was denied at point-blank range by Mothwa, before Shalulile steered the rebound wide of an empty net, although to be fair the chance came very sharply to the Namibian.
The contest was in the balance right up to the end and it was AmaZulu who nearly stole it at the death – in the 94th minute - when Lehlohonolo Majoro was inches away from sliding in a shot-cum-cross from Luvuyo Memela at the back post.