Thembinkosi ”Terror” Fanteni scored in the 52nd minute to earn a victory for Ajax Cape Town against their city rivals Santos in an Absa Cup semifinal clash played at the Athlone Stadium on Sunday.
Ajax left-back Brett Evans swung a corner kick to the far post which Dominic Isaacs headed towards goal and which Fanteni cheekily flicked into the back of the net, catching Wayne Roberts offguard.
The Urban Warriors will now face Castle Premiership league champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the final on May 26.
There was little goal-mouth action as both teams struggled to get through each other’s defences. Santos captain Edries Burton marshalled his backline with authority while his counterpart, goalkeeper Hans Vonk, steadied the Ajax rearguard.
The former South Africa international goalkeeper was called off his line to thwart a quick counter-attack in the 21st minute and although he managed to prevent Eleazor Rodgers from scoring, the lanky striker was rushed to hospital after their clash.
Rodgers left his markers behind as he dashed towards the ball which was cleared from his 18-area after an Ajax corner kick. Although he got his head to the ball first, Vonk clashed heads with the SA under-23 player.
The paramedics and Santos medics rushed to his aid but the striker remained on the ground until an ambulance came on to the field to whisk the player off to hospital. It was later reported that Rodgers has suffered a concussion as well as a broken cheek bone.
Botswana striker Dipsy Selolwane was brought on for Rodgers.
Nazeer Allie was steady as a rock at right-back for Ajax and darted forward like an arrow when necessary. Allie supplied good crosses for Bryce Moon and Franklyn Cale but neither could finish off the chances created by the industrious defender.
The first half ended goalless.
Seven minutes after the break, Fanteni acted quicker to the ball from an Evans corner kick, and despite Roberts on his back, the striker backheeled the ball into the net.
With defeat in sight Santos coach Roger De Sa brought on their top goalscorer, Irwin Isaacs, for the ineffective Romano Scott with half an hour to go.
The loss of Rodgers cost De Sa dearly as his midfielders could not create chances for Scott or Selolwane upfront, and now Ajax are in the final against a team they have beaten twice in the league.
Ajax coach Musin Ertugal said afterwards that his team had deserved to win as they played the more direct soccer.
”Santos relied too much on the high and long ball and when they lost the battle in the air, Ajax were quicker on the attack. Fanteni’s goal was brilliant as he backheeled the ball while the Santos defenders were waiting for him to turn,” added the delighted coach.
With the PSL champions struggling to impose themselves in recent domestic fixtures, Ajax are the favourites to lift the cup of dreams. – Sapa