Arrowing in on MTN8 final
Golden Arrows have put one foot in the MTN8 final after winning the ‘away’ leg of their semifinal tie against AmaZulu 2-1 at the Chatsworth Stadium in Durban on Sunday afternoon.
Striker Richard Henyekane did the damage for Abafana Bes’thende, scoring a quick-fire brace in the second half to help his side take massive step towards a first top-flight Cup final appearance.
Arrows dominated the first half and created all kinds of problems for the AmaZulu defence, with the clever running of Henyekane proving particularly troublesome. The striker provided a superb cross for Nhlanhla Zothwane in the eighth minute, but the midfielder poked his effort wide from close range.
On 20 minutes Henyekane was involved again, sparking a move from the left that ended with Musa Bilankulu getting a shot away from the edge of the penalty area, but Kalililo Kakonje made a good save.
Usuthu created some good chances of their own and they should have opened the scoring in the 27th minute. Ayanda Dlamini cut inside Joseph Musonda superbly to find some space on the left of the 18-yard box but he then blazed his shot over the bar when striker partner Brad Ritson was totally unmarked on the penalty spot.
If looking after the likes of Henyekane wasn’t difficult enough on its own, AmaZulu defender Pere Ariweriyai almost conspired to score a shocking own goal with a misdirected header back -- luckily Kakonje was quick enough to stop the ball just before it rolled over the goalline.
On 41 minutes AmaZulu midfielder Litha Ngxabi was given a clear sight of goal after a rare mistake in defence from Abafana Bes’thende but he failed to trouble goalkeeper Helton Da Rocha.
Just before the break Henyekane showed his pace by skinning two of the home team’s defenders but his shot from just inside the box ballooned over the crossbar.
The second half was much like the first, with the team in green and gold looking the more likely scorers. However, they had to wait until just past the hour mark for their dominance on the field to reflect in the scoreline.
A long throw-in from Musonda flicked off the head of Ariweriyai and fell kindly for Henyekane at the back post -- the newly capped Bafana Bafana player controlled the ball with his first touch before rifling the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
Three minutes later he almost added a second. Joseph Henyekane forced Kakonje into a good save with a low drive on goal and elder brother Richard hit the upright with his effort on the rebound.
It seemed merely a matter of time until Arrows found a second, and it was no surprise that Henyekane was again the man to find the back of the net, firing home a stunning 25-metre shot in the 67th minute to put his side in a commanding position in the two-legged Cup tie.
With ten minutes to go the striker almost completed a hat-trick, latching onto a great pass from his brother Joseph, but Kakonje was quickly off his line to make an excellent one-on-one save.
AmaZulu did pull one back deep into injury time, Ngxabi firing home a long-range shot after Arrows had failed to clear their lines from a corner kick, but with two away goals in the bag it is Abafana Bes’thende who definitely hold the upper hand.
The second leg will also be played at Chatsworth Stadium, with the match set for next Saturday evening.
AmaZulu (0) 1 (Ngxabi 90+5’)
Golden Arrows (0) 2 (R. Henyekane 61’ 67’)
AmaZulu: Kakonje, Biyela, Ariweriyai, Chintu, Gumede, N. Zwane, Ngxabi, Sikhakhane, J. Zwane (Ngwenya 66’), Ritson (Shongwe 74’), A. Dlamini
Arrows: Da Rocha, Zwane, Musonda, Sangweni, J. Henyekane, Shange, Bilankulu, Khuboni, Zothwane (Gabuza 62’), R. Henyekane (Manqana 90+2’), Tanoh (Pela 75’)