/ 1 May 2008

Ajax dealt a severe blow

Ajax Cape Town’s hopes of winning the Absa Premiership were dealt a massive blow at Atteridgeville’s Super Stadium on Wednesday night when defending champions Sundowns crushed the Urban Warriors 2-0.

Sundowns led 2-0 at half-time.

The score could have been bigger and it was the perfect warm-up for Downs’ Nedbank Cup semifinal showdown against AmaZulu in Potchefstroom on Sunday.

Downs were good value for their two-goal lead at the break. They capitalised on a weak defence and a side that appeared to be aiming for a point.

Downs attacking midfielder Lerato Chabangu wasted a chance to score in the third minute when he beat the offside trap but failed to test goalkeeper Moryan Cathay.

But the appreciative 6 000-plus home crowd were rewarded in the 17th minute when Brent Carelse latched on to a clever through ball from Chabangu and made no mistake with a clinical finish.

Ajax’s best effort came from a header from striker Russell Mwafulirwa, which inched over the crossbar in the 32nd minute.

The Brazilians made it 2-0 after 38 minutes when Chabangu did well to meet Josta Dldadla’s right-wing cross and took advantage of a hesitant ball-watching defence to stab home a well-taken goal.

The Urban Warriors missed the influence of veteran keeper Hans Vonk. The former Bafana Bafana star was sitting on the bench. His replacement, Cathay, failed to organise his defenders and paid the penalty.

Ajax coach Craig Rosslee made a surprise move when he replaced Nhlanhla Shabalala with Sifiso Vilakazi a minute from half-time. The move smacked of desperation and could have waited until after the break.

Ajax had two scares at the start of the second half. Cathay did well to punch away a 20m rocket from Esrom Nyandoro in the 49th minute, and two minutes later Carelse chipped over the advancing Cathay and hit the upright.

Carelse should have wrapped the game up on the hour mark when Dladla sent over a superb cross that beat the Ajax defence and the keeper, but Carelse, with an inviting open goal, also missed the cross.

Downs keeper Brian Baloyi, who was mainly a spectator, was called into action for the first time on 61 minutes when he did well to deny substitute Granwald Scott a goal.

Meanwhile, Kaizer Chiefs’ 1-0 victory over Golden Arrows at Chatsworth on Wednesday afternoon bolstered Amakhosi’s top-eight aspirations, the SuperSport website reported. Former Golden Arrows striker Mabhuthi Khenyeza scored the only goal of the game.

Moroka Swallows moved into the top half of the Absa Premiership when they beat Free State Stars 3-1 in a league match at the Germiston Stadium on Wednesday night.

Stars Sifiso Sithole put the visitors in the lead with a sweet strike after four minutes. Swallows’ Sandile Ndlovu netted in the 17th and 28th minutes to give his side the lead and Cecil Oerson scored the final goal five minutes before full time.

In other games played on Wednesday, Santos and SuperSport United drew 0-0, AmaZulu beat Wits 1-0 and Platinum Stars overcame Orlando Pirates 1-0. — Sapa