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Football | MTN8

Nhlanhla Shabalala © Backpagepix

Ajax edge closer to R8-million prize



Ajax Cape Town moved a step closer to the MTN8 final when they overcame Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 in the first leg of the semifinal at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday night.

It was a tense affair throughout, with referee Peter Mabuza brandishing the yellow card on a regular basis and not much in the way of free-flowing, attractive football from either side.

Chiefs struggled to make in-roads into the home defence for most of the night, although they did make a positive start to the game, creating a great chance in the very first minute.

The opportunity fell to Kaizer Motaung Jr, who failed to connect with a volley, and then having had a second bite at the cherry, could not find the back of the net from eight yards out with only Hans Vonk to beat.

Following the early incident, the game was played at a high tempo, with both sides mounting several attacks, mainly down the flanks, although no clear-cut chances materialised.

The Urban Warriors had a wonderful chance to draw first blood in the 23rd minute when Diyo Sibisi cleverly released Thulani Serero through on goal.

Serero’s shot was well hit, but too close to Khune. However, the ball bounced kindly for Sibisi, who should have netted the opener from close range, but instead blasted the ball into the stands.

As the half progressed, it was the Urban Warriors who began to gain the upper hand, and they again came close in the 30th minute when Khune had to be alert in order to tip Franklin Cale’s free kick over the goal. Serero then brought another good save out of Khune with a sweetly-struck shot in the 36th minute, while Chiefs had to wait until the 45th minute for their next opportunity which was wasted as Lawrence Molekwane failed to hit the target after a surging run had taken him into the box.

Early stages of the second half saw the teams matching each other blow for blow with little in the way of clear-cut goal-scoring opportunities.

The deadlock was however finally broken in the 63rd minute when Dipsy Selolwane bravely slotted home from the penalty spot after Serero’s pace had forced Thabang Rooi into a rash challenge inside the box.

Twelve minutes from time the Cape side had the chance to double their lead when Brett Evans delivered a quality free kick into the box, but Erduardo Ferreira mistimed his jump somewhat and the ball sailed over the bar.

The Ajax defence held firm, until the 92nd minute that is, when Knowledge Musona moved freely into the box and should have scored the all-important away goal, but was denied by a brilliant Vonk save.

There was drama at the end of the game as the final whistle was delayed while frustrated Chiefs fans threw objects down onto the field, but there was however no more time for the visiting side to mount any attacks, leaving them with plenty of work to do in the second leg.

TEAMS

Ajax: Vonk; Shabalala, Ferreira, Daniels, Evans; Doutie (Diallo 47'), Ngobeni, Selolwane, Cale; Sibisi (Alexander 85'), Serero (Davids 68')

Chiefs: Khune; Molekwane; Rooi, Sweswe, Masanamela; Nale, Nengomasha (Ntuka 50'), Mathebula (Sibeko 69'), Masango; Dladla, Motaung Jr (Musona 80')

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