Ajax title hopes dented

They are still in the Absa Premiership title race by the skin of their teeth, but the 1-1 draw with Santos in a dour, uncompromising Cape derby at Athlone Stadium on Thursday night was not the result Ajax Cape Town were seeking.

Now three points behind log leaders SuperSport United going into the final round of fixtures on Sunday, Ajax’s hopes are hanging by a thread.

If SuperSport as much as draw with Bloemfontein Celtic, they will gain their first-ever Premiership title.

Ajax’s only forlorn hope is to beat Golden Arrows and for SuperSport to lose to Celtic at the same time — thereby giving the Cape Town side a long-shot chance to become champions via a superior goal difference.

But it could have been a great deal different had referee Thabo Nkosi not disallowed what appeared a perfectly good Ajax goal in the 57th minute when Nathan Paulse brilliantly guided Franklyn Cale’s free-kick into the roof of the net with a superbly timed header.

A jittery Ajax became more and more anxious as the game progressed and lost much of their earlier poise, but Santos still required two breathtaking saves from Wayne Roberts to retain a share of the spoils.

Ajax could hardly have made a better start to the game, with a Dipsy Selolwane header giving them the lead in only the 10th minute.

But Ajax lost concentration in the 33rd minute and the ever-alert Eleazer Rodgers burst through their defence to score an opportunist equaliser.

The final outcome was not the one Santos sought either — with defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns ahead of them on the log in third place after beating Platinum Stars 1-0 at Olympia Park in Rustenburg on Wednesday night. — Sapa

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