AmaZulu secured their spot in the CAF Champions League group stages for the first time in their history following a 1-1 draw against TP Mazembe on Saturday afternoon.
Usuthu made wholesale changes from the league win over TS Galaxy, with only shot-stopper Veli Mothwa, Luvuyo Memela, Makhehlene Makhaula and Siyethemba Sithebe retaining their places in the line-up.
The visitors were setup deep in their own half in the opening exchanges, absorbing the pressure, as Mazembe went on the front foot but they could not trouble Mothwa despite having shots at goal.
The Ravens, meanwhile, were building up confidence pinning down AmaZulu in their own half and Soze Zemanga came the closest to breaking the deadlock for Mazembe but was denied by Mothwa.
However, Bonginkosi Ntuli broke the deadlock for the visitors just before the break from a rebound inside the box, which meant Mazembe would need to score two goals to advance.
Click through the gallery below to see the top-ranked sides in Africa.
The hosts remained on the front foot early in the second stanza but they were nearly punished just before the hour-mark, as Usuthu found their way in their box from a counter-attack, as Memela's strike from a rebound was crucially blocked by the Ravens defence.
With the Congolese giants applying the pressure with dangerous successive corners, Mothwa made a great acrobatic save in the last 22 minutes to keep out a dipping header.
Usuthu were camping in numbers around their box in the closing minutes, absorbing the pressure and they were punished in second-half stoppage time through Adam Bossu's impressive strike.
However, Bossu's effort was effectively the last kick of the game as Benni McCarthy's charges had done enough to secure their name in the hat for the group stage draw.
AmaZulu: Mothwa, Gumede, Zulu, Sikhakhane, Mgwazela, Mlambo, Makhaula, Buchanan, Sithebe, Memela, Ntuli
Subs: Boshoff, Majoro, Ekstein, De Jong, Khumalo, Masilela, Mthembu.