ABC Motsepe League side Dondol Stars claimed another big scalp in the Nedbank Cup after eliminating AmaZulu on penalties on Wednesday night.
Result: Dondol Stars 1-1 AmaZulu (Stars won 5-3 on penalties)
Date: 08 March 2023
Venue: FNB Stadium
Usuthu made wholesale changes to the side that beat Chippa United in the league, as goalkeeper Jody February started his second game in the tournament while the likes Bonginkosi Ntuli, Dumisani Zuma and Abbubaker Mobara were recalled.
The Premiership side had the upper hand in the early stages but they only came close to breaking the deadlock midway through the first stanza after Gabadinho Mhango had a shot through on goal that rattled the base of the near post.
The gaps started opening up in Dondol’s defence as Hendrick Ekstein also went clear on goal moments later and chipped a shot over goalkeeper Sphamandla Gumede but his effort missed the gaping net narrowly wide.
Chaba Refete came out of their shell with ten minutes left of the first stanza as Tebogo Makungo found himself with space through on goal and fired a diagonal strike that zipped past the bottom corner.
AmaZulu had an imposing start in the second stanza and Ekstein eventually broke the deadlock nine minutes in with a side-footed shot from close range after lining up to receive a square pass from Rally Bwalya.
However, the Tshwane side had a fight in them and Revaldo Fox quickly levelled matters six minutes later with a low strike at the back post after February spilled his initial header from a corner.
With the game on the balance, Usuthu made a triple change with 20 minutes left to lift up the performances of the team, as Junior Dion and Lehlohonolo Majoro offered fresh legs up top and Ethan Brooks came on a defensive change in midfield to rein in Dondol in place of the more attacking Ekstein.
Usuthu had the enduring legs late on and Mhango came close to snatching the equaliser two minutes before time with a low drive at the near post but Gumede made a great reflex save to keep his side in the game.
Mhango had another chance to avoid extra-time for Romain Folz’s charges with a well executed free-kick from the edge of the box in stoppages that was destined for the top corner but Gumede pulled off another superb save, as extra-time was required after a 1-1 draw.
The visitors had a quick start in the first period of extra-time as Brooks came close to restoring their lead within two minutes with a swerving shot in the box that hit the frame of the goal.
The game was there for the taking for either side but they were not taking their chances and Usuthu had to play the last five minutes of extra-time a man short after Keagan Buchanan got a second yellow card for remonstrating and was sent off.
However, there were tired legs from both ends in the dying minutes and there were not clear-cut chances as penalty shootouts ensued after a 1-1 draw in extra-time.
Dondol won 5-4 on penalties after Mhango’s first penalty for Usuthu was saved by Gumede and Tumelo Mathiane dispatched the final spot-kick to send the ABC Motsepe League side into the quarter-finals.
Here’s how they lined up:
Dondol Stars: Gumede, Mabu, Nomala, Fox, Balovi, Monama, Mnvembane, Molefe, Katiso, Skhosana, Makungo.
Subs: Danquarh, Mathiane, Ralebakeng, Makhanya, Mokhina, Nemaxwi, Phatlane, Nameka, Ngwetjana
AmaZulu: February, Sikhakhane, Hanamub, Gumede, Mphahlele, Mobara, Bwalya, Ekstein, Ntuli, Zuma, Mhango
Subs: Mothwa, Mabiliso, Khumalo, Brooks, Buchanan, Kunene, Majoro, Kwem, Dion