In an electrifying showdown, Richards Bay FC secured their place in the Carling Knockout quarter-finals with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Moroka Swallows on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
The match witnessed the debut of the young and promising Philasande Manqele as the goalkeeper for Richards Bay. Meanwhile, Swallows welcomed back the talented Keegan Allan and awarded Gabadinho Mhango with a starting position.
Manqele’s goalkeeping skills were immediately put to the test when he made a splendid save against a fierce first-time shot from Tshegofatso Mabasa, who capitalized on a delivery from the right flank.
Former Orlando Pirates player, Abel Mabaso, capitalized on a loose ball within the penalty area to break the deadlock for the hosts in the opening quarter-hour. The Birds struggled to clear a corner-kick, allowing Mabaso to seize the opportunity.
While Swallows found it challenging to establish a rhythm, they managed to maintain a considerable share of possession. The hosts cleverly overloaded the half-spaces and adopted a low-block strategy, showing glimpses of promise. This approach enabled them to break through Swallows’ defense, with Yanela Mbuthuma coming close to scoring from a tight angle.
Swallows displayed their resilience, leveling the score just five minutes into the second half. A well-executed cutback from Ntsako Makhubela found Mhango, who calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
However, the Natal Rich Boys swiftly regained the lead ten minutes later. Mbuthuma, exploiting the offside trap, confidently finished the opportunity to secure their advantage.
In the final 20 minutes of the match, former AmaZulu and Kaizer Chiefs striker Dumisani Zuma was substituted in for the visitors. Despite their relentless efforts to equalize, Swallows were thwarted by a combination of poor finishing and other factors.
In the end, the Natal Rich Boys emerged victorious, booking their spot in the quarter-finals with a commanding performance against the Dube Birds.