Date:08 December 2016 - By: Frank Mavhungu
In their NFD match at the Thohoyandou Stadium on Saturday, Black Leopards rose to the occasion and held the pace setters, Thanda Royal Zulu, to a goalless draw.
The game was a thriller from the first whistle blow to the bitter end, with both sides creating and wasting scoring opportunities. Lidoda Duvha took the game to the visitors from Richards Bay from the first whistle, with their midfielders, Ben Musaka, Leonard Ntshangase and Sphelele Mkhulise, pressing hard in search of an early goal.
Although Black Leopards were reduced to 10 men 12 minutes into the game, they did not stop fighting. Their diminutive midfielder, Khayelihle Shozi, was given his marching orders after hitting Michael Gumede of Royal Zulu with a fist. The referee, Mr Chris Harrison, was quick to produce red.
Instead of capitalizing on Leopards' misfortune and attacking with four strikers, Royal Zulu continued with their defensive pattern as if they were leading. Ben Musaka of Leopards and the captain of Thanda, Innocent Maela, were reprimanded with yellow cards for dangerous play towards the end of the first half.
Thanda effected two changes to their original line-up early in the last half. They replaced Nhlakanipho Mkwanazi and Michael Gumede with Xolani Mpontsane and Sipho Bhengu respectively.
Black Leopards realized that it was not their day when they missed a fortune in the 54th minute. This after they were awarded free kick just outside the penalty box. Lebohang Mabotja took the set piece and Phathutshedzo Nange caused an upset by heading away from inside the box.
Leopards later introduced Mziwokuthula Zimu and Ivan Mahangwahaya for Mwape Musonda and Leonard Ntshangase respectively, but that did not change the complexion of the game.
Mhlengi Cele of Royal Zulu controls the ball, while Jean Munganga of Leopards tackles him from behind.
Frank is a Human Resources Manager at the Department of Public Works in Limpopo. He is the longest serving correspondent of the Mirror, having joined us at the end of 1990. He mainly writes sports reports and resides at Tsianda Village. In 2004, Frank won the National Castle League Award, an award for the best reporter in the SAB league in South Africa.