Roslee gets it right on the night
Ajax Cape Town coach Craig Roslee got it right on the night.
His tactics and team selection were spot on and played a major role in the Urban Warriors sinking Orlando Pirates 2-1 in the Telkom Knockout final played at the Chatsworth Stadium on Saturday night.
The Cape Town side—currently top of the Absa Premiership—have now done the double over the Buccaneers in the space of seven days.
Ajax edged out Pirates 1-0 in a league encounter played at the Johannesburg Stadium last Saturday which saw the Urban Warriors move to the top of the table.
It was a repeat of their Rothmans Cup final replay in 2000 when Ajax defeated Pirates 4-1 at the FNB Stadium.
But on Saturday night, Ajax went for broke and attacked and it paid off. Ajax started the final like a house on fire and were 2-0 ahead within the first 16 minutes.
Roslee got it right while Bucs’ Dutch coach Ruud Krol’s gamble of playing lightweight striker Ivan Mhlambi failed.
Mabhuti Khenyeza, the man of the match, showed that Ajax meant business when from the kick-off he raced past the bemused Bucs defence and unleashed a great cross from the right which teammate Sifiso Vilakazi failed to connect.
Two minutes later, Mhlambi failed to get a boot to a tremendous cross from Bucs livewire, right wing Dikgang Mabalane, their best player on the night.
Sameehg Doutie blasted wide on six minutes as Ajax kept up the pressure.
The opening goal was spectacular. Khenyeza turned his back to the Bucs goal to steer home a stunning cross from left wing Frankly Cale which wrong-footed keeper Moeneeb Josephs, who returned to action after a month on the injury list with a broken nose.
Josephs picked the ball out of his net a second time after Khenyeza made it 2-0 in the 16th minute.
Cale started the move with another defence-splitting cross that found Clayton Daniels who squared the ball to in-form striker Khenyeza who make no mistake.
Bucs’ fans in the 22 000-strong crowd were quick to blame Josephs for the goals, but the Bafana Bafana number two keeper had no chance with either goal. He was let down by poor defending.
Mhlambi wasted another telling cross from Mabalane on 24 minutes. Then Benson Mhlongo headed powerfully against the Ajax crossbar a minute later.
Pirates were getting back into the game and a timely block by defender Nazeer Allie denied Bucs midfield talisman Teko Modise a goal in the 21st minute.
Then the crossbar denied Pirates veteran Zimbabwean striker Gilbert Mushangazhike a goal after 32 minutes.
Vilakazi was wide with a header in the 41st minute. At the other end, Ajax keeper Andre Petim brilliantly diverted a point-black shot from Modise for a corner three minutes from the interval.
Ajax started the second half the same way they began the first when Dipsy Selolwane forced Josephs to make a stunning save in the 46th minute as Ajax looked for a third goal.
Mabalane became the third Bucs player to hit the woodwork when his thunderous shot cannoned off the post in the 58th minute.
Josephs managed to palm down a Doutie shot-cum-cross in the 65th minute.
But the match came alive when Krol brought on Siphelele Mthembu and the striker paid back the faith Bucs had in him by reducing the deficit in the 74th minute.
Mthembu was the centre of a bitter battle with arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs over his services which dragged on for months until he was declared a Pirates player last month.
Bucs bombarded and rattled the Ajax side who were holding on for dear life for the remaining 16 minutes.
But Josephs was lucky not to have been sent off four minutes from time when he rushed out and brought down Khenyeza with a professional fowl just outside his penalty area. But referee Peter Mabuza surprisingly did nothing but wave play on.
Then Chenene missed a glorious chance in the dying seconds when he shot wide with Petim well beaten three minutes into injury time.
Ajax went home with the first prize of R4,25-million. - Sapa