Ajax win thriller to reach semis
Posted: 11 April 2009 Time: 17:51
Ajax Cape Town have beaten Winners Park 4-2 on penalties to advance to the semifinals of the Nedbank Cup after a remarkable 3-3 draw at the Seshego Stadium on Saturday.
There were six goals, two missed spot-kicks in ordinary time and a red card in what was a real ‘blood and thunder’ cup tie between the Premiership visitors and their First Division hosts.
Tshepo Malesa opened the scoring for Park, before Mabhuti Khenyeza equalised for the Urban Warriors. Both sides missed penalties within minutes of each other late in the 90 minutes, but still managed goals as first Thulani Serero saw his cross float over goalkeeper Makweni Mayala, before Ndumiso Mabena equalised second later.
The game went into extra time and Park took the lead through a deflected effort from Desmond Chauke, but Franklin Cale scored a sublime equaliser from distance. Rufus Mokoti received his marching orders for terrible challenge as Park finished the game with 10 men.
But Mabena missed his second penalty of the day and Noel Mwandile followed suit as Ajax won the shoot-out, much to the relief of coach Craig Rosslee.
Malesa gave the home side the best possible start after six minutes when he latched onto a long ball and, having left Nazeer Allie for dead, smashed a volley into the back of the net, giving Andre Petim no chance.
Khenyeza fired a shot across goal five minutes later, but his effort was palmed wide by home keeper Makweni Mayala. He had an even better chance a few minutes later when he was put through one-one-one with Mayala, but blasted his shot straight at the stopper.
And Ajax were awarded a harsh penalty on 14 minutes by referee Peter Mabuza after a handball in the area by Premerus Phadu, following a neat piece of skill and cross from Cole Alexander. Khenyeza duly scored, though Mayala will feel he should have stopped the shot having dived over the top of it.
Allie was lucky not to receive a red card when his two-footed lunge missed Booler Shabalala. Had he connected with the Park midfielder he would surely have sent-off and Park will claim the intent should have been enough to see him get his marching orders.
Dipsy Selolwane flashed a drive from 30-yards wide of the goal, while Park felt they should have had a penalty when Alexander appeared to bring down Shabalala before scooping the ball to safety. This time Mabuza blew for a free-kick in Ajax’s favour.
Mayala saved well from Cale’s header late in the first half and the teams went into the break all-square.
The second half got off to a remarkable start when Mabuza got the action back under way while the Ajax players were still breaking out of their huddle and not in position. They had to scramble to find some sort of shape and eventually resulted to fouling the Park player on the ball to buy some time.
Ajax had a goal disallowed on 58 minutes when Eduardo Ferreira was adjudged to have climbed on a defender as he headed home Cale’s cross. This time it appeared Mabuza got the decision right.
Substitute Chauke slammed the ball over from eight yards at the other end when he should have shown more composure having been played into space in the box.
Selolwane should have done better with 14 minutes to go when he thrashed the ball over the bar from the edge of the area, and Park went up the other end and won a penalty.
Petim was adjudged to have brought down Chauke and again it looked a soft decision from Mabuza, but the keeper saved Mabena’s spot-kick and so perhaps justice was done in the end.
And Mabuza’s generosity continued when he awarded Ajax another spot-kick, but Khenyeza, who was fortune with his first effort earlier in the game, this time shot wide.
But Ajax took the lead after Mayala let Serero’s cross float over him and into the net. It was a desperate error from the keeper and one his team did not deserve.
Park were level again with just a minute left to play. Mabena made up for his earlier penalty miss when he latched onto the rebound as Petim could only push Chauke’s shot into his path.
The home side took the lead three minutes into extra time when Chauke’s shot deflected past Petim, but Ajax were level again minutes later when Cale’s excellent volley from 30-yards curled into the corner of the net.
Khenyeza shot wide after good work from Serero on the right, while at the other end Ferreira almost scored an own goal when his attempted clearing header flashed just wide of the far post.
The game took yet another twist when he red-carded Mokoti for a terrible lunge on Ajax substitute Sifiso Vilakazi and Park were down to 10 men.
But the home side were inches away from taking the lead again when Mwandile’s 30-yard free-kick from a central position was just wide of the left-hand post.
Khenyeza should have scored for Ajax when Serero delivered a pin-point cross, but with the striker unmarked at the back post, he failed to connect with the header.
Penalty sequence (Ajax first): Brett Evans scored, Ndumiso Mabena saved – Franklin Cale scored, Premerus Phadu scored – Clifford Ngobeni scored, Michael Mulaudzi scored – Nhlanhla Kubeka scored, Noel Mwandile saved.