It was a case of super Saleng for Orlando Pirates, the newly crowned MTN8 champions, after securing a slender 1-0 victory over AmaZulu on Saturday evening at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Monnapule Saleng’s first-half super strike proved to be a winner, as Usuthu’s attempts to get an equaliser could not bear fruit.
Ahead of the much-anticipated clash between the two oldest clubs in the PSL, Pirates were dealt a huge blow as the captain Innocent Maela, Fortune Makaringe, and Goodman Mosele were all ruled out due to injury concerns.
Three changes were made from Bucs’ last starting line-up with the skipper being replaced by Tapelo Xoki, Miguel Timm replacing the injured Goodman Mosele, and Zakhele Lepasa was dropped for Ben Motshwari.
Meanwhile, Usuthu made four changes, introducing Abbubaker Mobara, George Maluleka, Sphesihle Maduna, and Gabadinho Mhango.
Within the first minute of the match, Nkosinathi Sibisi, unfortunately, suffered an injury that forced him off and he was replaced by Paseka Mako.
In the early stages of the game, both teams were piling the pressure on, seeking the early goal, but both sets of defenders were solid.
In the 16th minute, Thabiso Monyane drove in a curling ball inside AmaZulu’s box, finding Saleng who couldn’t hit the target with his header.
In the 24th minute, Saleng returned to open the scoring with a nicely curled free-kick, to put Ezimnyama Ngenkani ahead.
Later, AmaZulu made a forced change introducing Mbongeni Gumede after Ramahlwe Mphahlele suffered a head injury.
The match went to half-time with the Sea Robbers leading 1-0.
The second-half started with Usuthu exerting pressure on the Buccaneers, seeking to level matters, but couldn’t dismantle the Soweto giants’ defence.
The KwaZulu-Natal outfit looked more confident as they were in control of the midfield, but were not dangerous in front of goal.
In the last ten minutes, Romain Folz’s charges threw all they could in the Buccaneers’ box but the Happy People remained firm to keep the 1-0 lead, before the referee blew the final whistle.