The win was just a second league victory of the season for the Glamour Boys, who move up to 10 points from 10 matches this term
Kaizer Chiefs ended a seven-match winless spell in the league with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Benni McCarthy’s AmaZulu side at the Kings Park Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
The only goal of a tightly contested match was scored after just 10 minutes by Samir Nurkovic, making his first league start for Amakhosi after top-scoring for them last season with 13 goals.
In what was a high tempo start to the match, AmaZulu had the first clear chance when Augustine Mulenga cut inside in the box but then fired his left-footed shot narrowly wide of the far post on six minutes.
Four minutes later it was Chiefs who took the lead, when Dumisani Zuma whipped in a cross which was deflected towards his own goal by AmaZulu midfielder Siyethemba Sithebe, the ball falling kindly for Nurkovic who reacted sharply to steer it past Veli Mothwa and into the net.
The game remained open and entertaining, play going from end to end, with the hosts having the next opportunity to score when Siphelele Mthembu got in a header on goal, but his effort on the half-hour mark flashed wide.
Usuthu, who enjoyed markedly more possession in the opening stanza, upped the pressure over the next few minutes with several balls into the Amakhosi box, but the visiting side defended well to keep their goal intact.
The match also became increasingly physical and there were five yellow cards dished out in the first half alone, including one to each of Nurkovic and Tapelo Xoki after a 43rd-minute altercation nearly ended in blows being traded.
The second half continued much the same as the first after the interval, with plenty of endeavour and commitment being shown, without much in the way of opportunities around either box thanks to some solid defending from both sides.
After Mulenga and Nurkovic had failed to threaten with their efforts at either end, AmaZulu went close to equalising when Xoki’s header from a 63rd minute Sithebe free-kick flew inches wide of Daniel Akpeyi’s goal.
Three minutes later Nurkovic passed up a great chance to double the lead when he headed straight at Usuthu keeper Mothwa following a pin-point cross from Zuma.
The next clear opening fell to the KwaZulu-Natal side in the 77th minute when after a neat build-up, Lehlohonolo Majoro, just on as a substitute, fired goalwards, but the former Chiefs and Orlando Pirates striker sent his effort straight at Akpeyi.
The pressure continued to build from AmaZulu, but they couldn’t properly test Akpeyi as Limbikani Mzava miscued an effort while Majoro sent a header well over the bar.
As the game moved into added time, Chiefs had chances to add to the tally, but Lazarous Kambole nor Nurkovic were able to capitalise.
There was to be a late scare for Amakhosi when Xoki scrambled the ball into the net in the 96th minute, but his effort was ruled out for an infringement on Akpeyi.