Mamelodi Sundowns opened the new DStv Premiership season with a 1-0 win over AmaZulu on Friday evening.
The reigning champions stuck with the same line-up from their MTN8 quarter-final clash against Kaizer Chiefs, while Usuthu preferred Bonginkosi Ntuli up top alongside debutant Matarr Ceesay.
Sundowns attempted to catch Usuthu off guard in the opening exchanges through a mistimed ball that landed at the feet of Haashim Domingo, who wasn’t able to punish the visitors.
Another sight to goal presented itself to a certain Domingo right after the half-hour mark, but the diminutive midfielder again failed to trouble AmaZulu goalkeeper Veli Mothwa.
Masandawana were finally up and running three minutes to halftime when Themba Zwane sent Mothwa the wrong way from the penalty spot after Thembela Sikhakhane fouled Peter Shalulile.
Sundowns came to life again shortly thereafter and threatened a second from a delivery across the face of goal after a nice passing move, but Peter Shalulile missed target.
The Brazilians went for a substitution midway inside the second half and had Aubrey Modiba withdrawn for Uruguayan international Gaston Sirino.
Uncertainty in Sundowns’s defence later on had Lehlohonolo Majoro clear, but Rushine De Reuck’s goal-line clearance saved the day before Mothobi Mvala missed a one-on-one at the other end.
More positive spells followed the Brazilians in the closing quarter, as Shalulile dragged a cutback from Thapelo Morena narrowly past the bottom-corner.
The champions managed the rest of the encounter successfully well to start their league campaign on a winning note.
Sundowns: Mweene, Mudau, Lakay, De Reuck, Lebusa, Mvala, Domingo, Coetzee, Modiba, Zwane, Shalulile.
Subs: Pieterse, Sirino, Morena, G.Kekana, Maema, Jali, Mkhulise, Safranko, Kutumela.
AmaZulu: Mothwa, Sikhakane, Zulu, Xoki, Mgwazela, Makhuala, Sithebe, Buchanan, Ntuli, Ceesay, Maduna.
Subs: Boshoff, Moleko, Khumalo, Mzava, Moremi, Ekstein, Mlambo, De Jong, Majoro.