Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 AmaZulu FC: Zwane gets Masandawana's PSL title defence off to winning start
Themba Zwane, Mamelodi Sundowns & Keagan Buchanan, AmaZulu FC, August 2021
The accomplished attacker netted his ninth career goal against Usuthu in the opening day of the 2021/22 league campaign

Mamelodi Sundowns started their defence of the PSL title with a hard-fought 1-0 win over AmaZulu FC in a PSL encounter which took place at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Friday evening.

Themba Zwane's first-half goal was enough to earn Masandawana a victory over Usuthu, who recorded their second consecutive victory in the new season. 

Co-head coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena named an unchanged team with Masandawana having secured a victory over their Gauteng rivals, Kaizer Chiefs, in the MTN8 encounter last weekend. 

Their counterpart, Benni McCarthy, made three changes to the team which faced and lost to Cape Town City in the MTN8 clash with Matarr Ceesay, Sphesihle Maduna, and Bongi Ntuli being the three new faces in the starting line-up. 

Sundowns dominated possession from the start and they displayed some great counter-pressing which led to Siyethemba Sithebe giving away possession in his own half.

Haashim Domingo pounced and played a through pass which was meant for Peter Shalulile, but goalkeeper Veli Mothwa was alert in the Usuthu goal as he came out and snatched the ball.

Masandawana were also playing some balls into the Usuthu box from wide areas in search of Shalulile,  who connected with one of Lyle Lakay's trademark crosses, but the Namibian hitman failed to hit the target with a header.

Shalulile was a busy man and he showed some good hold-up play which created a chance for Domingo to shoot and the 26-year-old midfielder's effort went wide of the target without troubling Mothwa. 

The hosts were then awarded a penalty after Shalulile was fouled by Thembela Sikhakhane in the box and Zwane beat Mothwa from the spot-kick to hand Sundowns a well-deserved 1-0 lead a minute before half-time.

AmaZulu played much better after the restart with Tapelo Xoki's headed effort going wide of keeper Kennedy Mweene's left upright, before Keagan Buchanan's long-range attempt went wide of the target.

Buchanan was seeing a lot of the ball in midfield and he played a long ball for Maduna, but Mweene came out rushing and gathered the ball before the Usuthu youngster could make contact with the ball.

There was a defensive mix-up in the Masandawana box following a long ball from Sithebe and Rushine De Reuck had to make a well-timed block on the goal-line to deny substitute Lehlohonolo Majoro a goal.

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However, Sundowns were dangerous on the counter as Shalulile's effort went inches wide of Mothwa's left upright and Mothobi Mvala was let down by his poor first touch after being sent through on goal. 

The introduction of Thapelo Morena brought some pace to the hosts' attack and he nearly grabbed an assist after he set up Shalulile, whose low shot narrowly missed the target with Mothwa well-beaten.

The momentum was with AmaZulu in the closing proceedings as they looked to snatch an equalising goal, but the hosts stood firm at the back and ultimately, Sundowns emerged 1-0 winners over AmaZulu.