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15 Mar 2008 08:31
There were mistakes all round—and it was one final error by hapless referee Thabo Nkosi that paved the way for Kaizer Chiefs to enter the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup with a tense 2-0 extra-time victory over Ajax Cape Town at King’s Park Stadium in Durban on Friday night.
Nkosi awarded Amakhosi a dubious 117th-minute penalty from which Fabian McCarthy opened the score, with Mbhuthi Khanyeze sealing the issue three minutes later with a second goal as Ajax panicked in an attempt to secure an equaliser and left their defence exposed.
The irony of Nkosi’s misplaced decision was that he should have awarded Chiefs a penalty for handball in the 91st minute of scheduled play, and some will suggest the one mistake balanced out the other.
Still, there was little doubt that the more accomplished team ended up pocketing the spoils while keeping alive their prospects in the competition that boasts a R6-million winners’ prize.
And, in truth, Chiefs squandered enough chances through misplaced shots from Khanyeza, Shaun Bartlett and Gerald Sibeko, in particular, to have won the game by six goals.
“It should have been 3-0 after 20 minutes,” said Chiefs coach Muhsin Ertugral afterwards—and few would question his claim following the spate of embarrassing scoring attempts.
Then, when Chiefs were on target, American Fabian Cathy, in what was a debut appearance in place of the suspended Hans Vonk, brought off a series of amazing saves that would probably not have been equalled by the former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper.
Ajax too missed some gilt-edged opportunities and after Simphiwe Tshabalala for Chiefs and Russel Mwafulirwa for Ajax thudded balls on to the crossbar, it appeared as though nothing short of an earthquake would provide a goal.
Nkosi’s penalty award was an earthquake of sorts—although in some way it assured that justice was done in the end.
As for Ajax, they rarely looked like the sprightly and inventive combination that has surged into the top of the Premier Soccer League log table—and without sturdy Brazilian defender Eduardo Ferreira, their defence was torn to shreds by the clinical Amakhosi.—Sapa
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