Ngubane wins battle of ‘Professors’
Posted: 15 April 2009 Time: 16:56
Mlungisi ‘Professor’ Ngubane got his tenure as Thanda Royal Zulu off to the best possible start with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Ted Dumitru’s Mamelodi Sundowns at Mpumalanga Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
What one witnessed during the first 45 minutes was not quality football. Both the Brazilians and the Amabhubesi looked extremely poor on a hot April day.
Sundowns had most of the possession during the first half, often playing attractive football and creating decent opportunities in front of goal, but their poor finishing really let them down.
Thanda, on the other hand, looked like a side second from bottom on the Premiership table, but they were going to give it their all to find the three points they so desperately needed.
Benedict Vilakazi was the spark for Sundowns and he created their first decent opportunity in the 14th minute with a nicely-weighted pass to an unmarked Surprise Moriri, but he ballooned his shot over the crossbar from only 10 yards out.
Nkosinathi Nhleko, against the run of play, pulled the best out of Brian Baloyi in the Sundowns goal in the 19th minute. Nhleko bulldozed his way past the defence, but the keeper produced a fine stop to deny the striker.
The only other decent chance of the half fell to Bongane Twala in the 26th minute, but the Brazilians midfielder squandered his chance in front of goal, only 10 yards out, miscuing his shot completely.
The second half saw Thanda awake from their slumber as Katleho Loke opened the scoring two minutes after the restart. July Mahlangu provided a defence-splitting pass through the middle to put Loke one-on-one with Baloyi, and he kept his head as he chipped the on-rushing keeper to put his side in front.
Sundowns tried everything to get back into the game, but couldn’t improve on their finishing in front of goal. Thuso Phala, in particular, missed a gilt-edged chance, dragging his left-footed shot wide from eight yards out.
The win for Thanda might just ensure them of their place in the top-flight for the 2009/10 season.