Ajax Cape Town snatched a dramatic 3-2 victory over Mamelodi Sundowns on Sunday after a battle of Dutch coaches in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
Zimbabwean Khama Billiat struck the winner one minute into stoppage at sun-baked Lucas Moripe Stadium near Pretoria with a low shot past advancing goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands after a neat build-up.
Ajax coach Maarten Stekelenburg leapt with joy after a seesaw struggle in which his team were lucky to trail only 1-0 at half-time before storming back to take a lead they surrendered eight minutes from full-time.
From rival Johan Neeskens, a midfielder in the great Dutch and Ajax Amsterdam teams of the 1970s, there was a look of exasperation after witnessing his team fade in the second half again and lose a chance to regain top place on the table.
Leaders Kaizer Chiefs have 12 points, SuperSport United 11, Sundowns and Ajax 10 and Maritzburg United, defending champions Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows nine after five rounds.
“I told my team before the game to go out play football and have fun, but they did not do that during the first half. We were always retreating and that disappointed me,” said former Ajax Cape Town youth coach Stekelenburg.
“At half-time I urged the team not to be scared, to enjoy themselves, to attack. This victory is a great boost to our confidence and we look forward to hosting Free State Stars next Friday.”
Former Barcelona assistant coach Neeskens backed his defenders even though they conceded more goals against Ajax than in their previous four matches in the richest African national football championship with a $1.25-million first prize.
“You attack as a team and you must also defend as a team. Strikers and midfielders must share the responsibility of forcing opponents into mistakes. We were also guilty of watching the ball, but not runs off the ball.”
Legohang Mokoena put Sundowns ahead on 30 minutes before goals from Terror Fanteni and Nhlanhla Vilakazi edged 2010 league runners-up Ajax in front only for Punch Masenamela to level with a fierce close-range shot.
Early and late goals from Nigerian Felix Obada and Kurt Lentjies gave unfashionable Maritizburg United a 2-0 home win over lowly Golden Arrows in a KwaZulu-Natal derby while Free State Stars were held 0-0 at home by BIDVest Wits. — Sapa