It was a frustrating match for Sundowns as their star-studded midfield was not allowed to string passes together.
AmaZulu, on the other hand, were content with sitting at the back and managed to threaten Sundowns with a few quick breaks, but coach Manqoba Mngqithi will be pleased at how his young charges contained The Brazilians.
Sundowns took control of the match from the first whistle, but they were not allowed to create much clear-cut opportunities by the organised Usuthu defence.
The first chance fell for Mabhuti Khenyeza, who found himself with space on the left, but his shot went wide in the eighth minute.
Carlington Nyadombo received a yellow card for a clumsy double-footed tackle on Katlego Mphela just outside the box. Mphela stepped up, but his free-kick went straight into Tapuwa Kapini’s hands.
Sundowns continued to press forward, using their wingbacks to add more numbers, and it almost paid off in the 26th minute when Doctor Mampuru went on a dazzling run which was stopped illegally by Ramson Zhuwawo on the edge of the box.
Modise’s attempt from the free-kick was poor as his tame shot failed to trouble the goalkeeper.
Usuthu almost took the lead against the run of play when Andile Khumalo fired in a long-range shot, but Sundowns goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands pulled off a one-handed save to tip the ball over for a corner.
The resulting corner almost produced a goal but Sandilands was alert enough to block Sibusiso Hadebe’s header; the ball bounced around the box a few times before Method Mwanjali cleared the danger.
AmaZulu almost scored when Namibian striker Tangeni Shipahu latched onto a brilliant long pass from Hadebe, but his shot struck the upright with Sandilands well-beaten.
Sundowns seemed to lose their tempo after the break, while Usuthu continued to grow in confidence. Dumisani Zwane should’ve opened the scoring in the 70th minute when he attacked the box from the right - he took a powerful shot that struck Sandilands in the face when a deft chip would’ve been the better option.
Mushekwi’s first chance came in the 76th minute but his looped header sailed past the top corner.
With AmaZulu keeping all players behind the ball, it was very difficult for Sundowns to feed Bafana Bafana star Katlego Mphela and Mushekwi, and in the end a goalless draw was a fair result.