Sekhukhune United registered their first ever win in the DStv Premiership when they defeated Maritzburg United 2-0 at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The hero for Babina Noko was Nigerian striker Chibuike Ohizu, who scored a first-half brace to see the visitors to victory. The Team of Choice, meanwhile, have now lost back-to-back matches and will be having an eerie feeling of deja vu: last season they lost their first five matches on the bounce and ended up in a relegation scrap until almost the end of the campaign.
The teams traded early half-chances, with Maritzburg’s Bongokuhle Hlongwane and Sekhukhune’s Chibuike Ohizu looking dangerous in the opening exchanges.
Ohizu soon made his mark: the Nigerian was denied by a fine save from Maritzburg’s Marcel Engelhardt in the 10th minute, but seven minutes later he got the better of the German goalkeeper with a crisp finish from Vusumuzi Mncube’s assist to put the visitors ahead.
On 20 minutes Babina Noko went in search of a second goal, but Tlotlo Leepile saw his long-range shot turned away by the Team of Choice ‘keeper.
Yet just the past hour mark Engelhardt was picking the ball out of his net again, with Ohizu claiming his second. The striker got on the end of a cross from Tshediso Patjie and provided a fine headed finish for 2-0.
Maritzburg found their stride in the latter part of the first half, dialling up the pressure in attack as they sought a way back into the game, though they found Edwin Gyimah and goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini in mean moods at the back.
The ‘keeper made notable saves to deny Zukile Kewuti, Rowan Human and Richard Zumah in the dying minutes before the interval, leaving Sekhukhune two goals to the good heading into the change rooms.
Maritzburg opted for an attacking change at the start of the second half, withdrawing defender Riyaaz Ismail and replacing him with Brandon Theron, who scored in their weekend loss to Golden Arrows. Sekhukhune also shuffled their pack with the introduction of Nkanyiso Madonsela.
Another Team of Choice substitute, Lifa Hlongwane, nearly claimed a goal for the hosts soon after rising off the bench on the hour mark, as he headed wide from Alfred Ndengane’s flick-on at a throw-in.
Hlongwane certainly added more invention and penetration to Maritzburg’s attack and he came close again on 76 minutes, with his shot direct from a free kick only denied by the fingertips of Kapini.
The hosts continued to probe for a goal in hope of setting up a tense finale, but Sekhukhune held firm in defence to secure a deserved 2-0 win.
The teams will only return to DStv Premiership action after the impending international break, with Maritzburg United visiting Baroka FC and Sekhukhune at home to Stellenbosch FC – both on September 11.
Maritzburg United 0Sekhukhune United (2) 2 (Ohizu 17’ 31’)
Maritzburg United:Engelhardt, Ndengane, Daniels, Ismail (Theron 46’), Graham, Ntshangase, Claasen (Hlongwane 60’), Kewuti, Human, Hlongwane, Zumah (Skelem 60’)
Sekhukhune United:Kapini, De Jongh, Gyimah, Motsepe, Jampies, Mncube (Madonsela 46’), Matona, Maart (Chabalala 86’), Patjie (Nxumalo 70’), Ohizu (Rakhale 70’), Leepile (Katsande 53’)© Backpage TXT