Usuthu go down to SuperSport

Matsatsantsa used a 4-5-1 formation with Glen Salmon being the lone striker. He replaced the suspended Fikru Tefera, while Andre Arendse started in goal for the still injured Denis Onyango. AmaZulu used a 3-5-2 system with three defenders at the back in the Nigerian Pere Ariweriyai, Sanele Majola and the Congolese Bukasa Kasonga, even though right winger Jan Sillo often dropped back into the right-back position whenever SuperSport attacked.

Matsatsantsa nearly scored inside the first minute of play after a high ball was headed on by Salmon to Brent Carelse, who had moved into the opponent's box. Carelse passed the ball to Daine Klate, whose shot was blocked at close range by AmaZulu keeper Kakonje Kalililo.

Most of the battle happened in midfield, which was congested by both sides. SuperSport mostly used their familiar route-one tactics, playing the long ball to their striker Salmon, who, accordingly, had to head the ball on. Both teams struggled to create any real chances during the first half, which was a rather boring affair. Still, Carelse got a great opportunity in the 43rd minute to put SuperSport ahead, but his shot was well parried by keeper Kalililo, diving to his right.

In injury time, Usuthu striker Myron Shongwe should have scored when he went one-on-one with Arendse, but he shot wide with the outside of his right foot from a slightly wide angle to the left of goal, while the former Black Leopards player could have scored easily if he had used his left-foot instead.

AmaZulu's ambitions to win the game were not helped when their striker Shongwe pulled a hamstring muscle barely five minutes in the second half. And while Usuthu were temporarily down to ten men due to Shongwe's injury, SuperSport counter-attacked. Klate delivered a fine cross into the box from the left and striker Salmon was alert, making an excellent run to get rid of his marker and scoring 1-0 from close range.

Usuthu's Marc van Heerden nearly equalized in the 59th minute, but his dipping shot from the left ended wide to the right side of goal. Matsatsantsa, meanwhile, continued with their percentage soccer; long balls upfront, fight hard for the second ball, getting numbers forward and hoping for a chance in front of the opponent's box. It was not nice to watch, but, to be fair, SuperSport coach Gavin Hunt's tactics did work.

AmaZulu finally created some opportunities in the dying minutes of the game, but Sthembiso Dlamini failed to put the ball into the goal from close range, the ball flew wide instead, and substitute Japhet Zwane's shot from outside the box was excellently saved by Arendse.

Overall, Matsatsantsa deserved to win and last season's league champions will now go to the Telkom Knockout Last 16. Arendse was selected as the Man of the Match thanks to his fine save to block Zwane from scoring.

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