Maritzburg United are up and running in the 2021-22 DStv Premiership season following a hard-fought 1-0 win over Baroka FC at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday.
The Team of Choice earned all three points courtesy of an early strike from Richard Zumah in a match in which both teams received a red card. Victory moved Maritzburg up to 12th on the league standings, level on points with Baroka in 11th after three matches.
Ernst Middendorp fielded a very attacking starting XI and the choice paid dividends with just 13 minutes on the clock. Travis Graham pounced on a loose clearance from Denwin Farmer and slipped Zumah through on goal; the latter, who dons the No 13 on his back, showed great composure to round Oscarine Masuluke before slipping the ball into an empty net.
Bakgaga tried to find a way back into the encounter but missed the presence of Evidence Makgopa up front. The Bafana Bafana striker was unavailable for the clash due to personal reasons.
Maritzburg were impressive in defence for the most part, but suffered a huge blow in the 51st minute when Bongokuhle Hlongwane, who was Bafana Bafana’s hero earlier this week, received his marching orders following a second bookable offence.
This put the visitors on the back foot and Baroka turned the screws as a result. But just as the hosts looked sure to find the equaliser, they were also reduced to 10 men with six minutes of regulation time remaining. Thami Masiya had come on as a second-half substitute, but saw himself taking an early shower following two late challenges on Marcel Engelhardt in the Maritzburg goal.
Baroka continued to enjoy the upperhand, but Maritzburg’s defence held firm and the Team of Choice notched up their first win of the campaign as a result.
Baroka FC (0) 0
Maritzburg United (1) 1 (Zumah 13′)
Baroka FC:Masuluke; Gebhardt, Farmer, Sibiya, Mphahlele (Kamatuka 63′), Dlala (Goldstone 88′), Mgaga, Chauke, Mokhabi (Masiya 63′), Monama (Phiri Jr 63′), Mbulu.
Maritzburg United: Engelhardt; Ismail, Ndengane, Rae (Allie 80′), Graham (Bhengu 90+4′), Ntshangase, Kewuti, Human (Theron 46′), Soukouna (Claasen 80′), Zumah, (L.Hlongwane 53′), B. Hlongwane.
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