Bidvest Wits moved to the top of the Absa Premiership standings after cruising to a comfortable 3-0 victory over AmaZulu at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Saturday evening, writes DYLAN APPOLIS.
Usuthu finished outside the top eight in the Absa Premiership last season after falling to a 3-1 defeat by Bloemfontein Celtic on the final day of the 2018-19 campaign.
AmaZulu bolstered their squad after bringing in veteran striker Lehlohonolo Majoro and New Zealand striker Andre de Jongh to beef up their attack.
Meanwhile, the Clever Boys finished in third place in the league after claiming a narrow 1-0 victory over Golden Arrows in their last league encounter of last season.
Wits have been busy during the current transfer window with 10 new signings, including Brandon Petersen, Siyanda Zwane, Phathu Nange, Sameehg Doutie, Prince Nxumalo, Zitha Macheke, Carl Lark and Ivan Mahangwahaya.
The visitors got off to a good start and showed their intent early on while the home side were trying to find their rhythm in the opening exchanges of the match.
Wits managed to take the lead after 14 minutes when Terrence Dzvukamanja pounced on a defensive error to nod the ball past Muneeb Josephs.
De Jong had a chance to level matters on the half-hour mark but saw his shot blocked before Maduna’s follow-up sailed wide of the target.
The visitors then doubled their lead in the 38th minute when Dzukumanja laid the ball off for Deon Hotto, who fired the ball in at the near post to beat Josephs.
Goals from Dzvukamanja and Hotto gave Gavin Hunt’s men a 2-0 lead over Usuthu as the game went into the interval.
Cavin Johnson opted for a fresh pair of legs early in the second half when he introduced Majoro, who replaced Butholezwe Ncube.
However, Wits picked up where they left off in the first half and extended their lead in the 54th minute when captain Thulani Hlatshwayo headed home Keagan Ritchie’s set piece.
Hlatshwayo should have made it 4-0 to Wits in the 65th minute when he rose unchallenged in the area, but was unable to direct his header on target as it sailed wide of goal.
Hunt made his first substitution of the game a minute later when debutant Sameehg Doutie made way for Elias Pelembe, while Johnson replaced De Jong with Talent Chawapiwa in the 71st minute.
Majoro should have reduced the deficit two minutes later when he combined well with Chawapiwa before unleashing a strike from a tight angle to force Brandon Petersen into making a save at the near post.
Pelembe came close to grabbing Wits’ fourth goal in 82nd minute, but fired a curling effort wide of the target.
Bongi Ntuli nearly pulled a goal back two minutes later when the striker smashed his strike against the upright, but the linesman flagged his effort offside.
With three minutes left to play, Hunt made his final change when he brought on Mxolisi Macuphu for Carl Lark, who almost scored seconds later.
However, Wits held on to their three-goal lead over Usuthu until the final whistle to claim all three points and move to the top of the table on goal difference.
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