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Bennett Chenene scored a superb goal to give Moroka Swallows a 1-0 victory over Free State Stars Friday in the South African Premiership.
Relegation-threatened Ajax Cape Town were held 0-0 by AmaZulu in another game as the richest national football league on the continent resumed after a 19-day break for South African FA Cup fixtures and 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
But small holiday crowds in Soweto and Cape Town and a national TV audience were left feeling cheated after poor advertisements for the game in a league offering a 10 million rand ($1,085 million/845,000 euros) first prize.
All the sides struggled to string together a series of passes, there was too much hit-and-hope football and too little goalmouth excitement, with rustiness from an almost three-week break for some sides the only excuse.
The one memorable moment came from diminutive midfielder Chenene, who received the ball with his back to goal, turned and rifled an edge-of-box shot past the outstretched right hand of Tshepo Motsoeneng after 33 minutes.
Stars wasted a chance to level midway through the second half at Dobsonville Stadium when Ethiopian Fikru-Tefera Lemessa fired a penalty over after Roger da Costa handled.
Ajax faced AmaZulu without a league win since December and it was easy to see why the Urban Warriors are struggling as they barely created a chance until the dying minutes when substitute Lebogang Manyama might have scored twice.
AmaZulu defended in depth ahead of assured Zimbabwean goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini, broke quickly and had first half scoring efforts cleared off the line by Nazeer Allie and Khama Billiat.
Free State remain fourth on the table, 15 points behind leader Kaizer Chiefs with eight rounds left, Swallows and AmaZulu climbed to ninth and 11th places and Ajax stayed second last, three points above Chippa United.