Durban – Heroic goalkeeping from Royal AM’s shot-stopper Patrick Nyame helped Royal AM to salvage a 0-0 draw and a point in a hard-fought first-ever Durban derby against AmaZulu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The result sees John Maduka's Royal AM side move to second on the log via goal difference, behind only runaway league leaders Sundowns.
Had it not been for the excellent saves of the Cameroon international, there is no doubt that AmaZulu would have scored an abundance of goals and Andre De Jong may have even bagged a hat-trick due to the way he pressed and probed the Royal AM defence.
For AmaZulu, this was yet again a case of the result not reflecting their play. They dominated possession and will be frustrated that they now have their ninth draw of the season which is the most out of any side in the league this term.
As expected, the game started with high-intensity football as AmaZulu breached the Royal AM defensive line once and the latter breached the Usuthu defensive line twice in the opening two minutes.
While both sides showed some attacking enterprise in the opening half, there were relatively few opportunities for each side with the rain making the playing conditions difficult.
AmaZulu had their first good opportunity of the game in the 12th minute as De Jong’s shot from a tight angle following some good build-up play from Usuthu, forcing a save from Royal AM goalkeeper Nyame.
The in form New Zealand international De Jong again tried his luck 14 minutes later with a cross-cum-shot that dipped under the crossbar. However, Nyame was again alert to make a save for Royal AM.
There were several stoppages in the first half as the rain made conditions difficult and forced players to lose their bearings and balance.
The conditions produced its first casualty in the 32nd minute as AmaZulu were forced to bring in Siyethemba Sithebe for the injured Xola Mlambo.
Royal AM failed to muster a single shot on target in the opening half but could have done better on the stroke of half time when Levy Mashiane found himself in a good position in front of goal. However, AmaZulu’s captain Makhelene Makhaula dispossessed him before he could shoot.
The highlight of the second half and game came in the 54th minute as De Jong sent a shot which was bent towards the back post that forced a glorious save from Nyame. The save may end up going down as one of the finest saves of the season.
Thembela Sikhakhane missed a sitter for AmaZulu in the 78th minute. A defensive lapse in concentration by Royal AM led to their backline being breached and after beating Nyame, Sikhakhane had to only direct his shot towards goal which he failed to do.
Surprisingly, AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy only introduced key striker Bongi Ntuli in the 86th minute as the goal poacher came on for De Jong. It may have been a tactical mistake to not have introduced the lanky striker earlier, especially as goal opportunities were hard to come by.
Both teams will be in action next Wednesday. AmaZulu host Orlando Pirates at the Jonsson Kings Park Stadium while Royal AM travel to Loftus Versfeld to play against Mamelodi Sundowns in a top-of-the-table clash.