Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
FORMER Highlanders and Chicken Inn defender Teenage Hadebe finally made his league debut for Absa Premiership giants Kaizer Chiefs in a nil-all draw against AmaZulu at the King Goodwill Zwelithini Stadium on Wednesday night.
Hadebe was thrust in the left-back position and never put a foot wrong for the entire 90 minutes. In fact, Hadebe was the Chiefs’ hero after clearing a goal bound effort from the line deep into the first half added time preventing AmaZulu going into the breather leading.
Like a veteran of many battles, the Warriors’ defender intelligently drifted to the goal line when star goalkeeper Itumelang Khune left his area to try and narrow the angle, as an AmaZulu striker threatened.
Khune was beaten and AmaZulu supporters were ready to erupt in celebration when Hadebe cleared off the line.
The Zimbabwean defender had been struggling with injury for the past few months, but was recently declared fully fit. He relegated Erick Mathoho to the bench.
Steve Komphela’s charges should have gone ahead on 26 minutes, but Philani Zulu blazed over the crossbar from 12-yards out after being picked out by Bernard Parker.
Khune was called upon in the 38th minute as the Chiefs’ shot-stopper produced a stunning save to deny Phumlani Gumede from close range.
According to a KickOff.com report, Usuthu were gifted with a chance to break the deadlock in the 53rd minute when they were awarded a penalty.
Rhulani Manzini stepped up, but saw his spot kick saved by the legs of Khune.
Ten minutes later, Chiefs went close to taking the lead, but AmaZulu goalkeeper Boalefa Pule produced a superb save to keep out Gustavo Paez’s header.
Moments later, Komphela introduced Siphiwe Tshabalala for Hendrick Ekstein as the Amakhosi looked to bag the opening goal.
Pule came to AmaZulu’s rescue with 12 minutes to go, as the keeper produced another superb stop to keep out Parker’s effort from the edge of the box. The hosts were then reduced to 10 men in the 89th minute when Gumede was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
Nevetherless, neither side could carve out an opening in the closing stages as the score remained goalless at full-time.
Hosts Usuthu featured two Zimbabweans in former Tsholotsho midfielder Butholezwe Ncube, who also played the entire match, while Ovidy Karuru was a second half substitute for Jabulani Ncobeni.
Chiefs host Free State Stars at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium tomorrow.
In other matches played on Wednesday, Polokwane City, home to Warriors’ goalkeeper George Chigova and Walter Musona, played to a 0-0 draw with Evans Rusike’s Maritzburg United. — @skhumoyo2000.