Arrows set their sights on trophy

2009-08-24 00:00

DESPITE being consistent top-eight finishers, Lamontville Golden Arrows have not won a trophy yet in their eight seasons in the Premier Soccer League, but will get their first chance to set that record straight when they meet Ajax Cape Town in the MTN8 final on September 26.

Arrows earned the right to compete in their first cup final by convincingly beating AmaZulu 4-1 on aggregate over the two legs of their semi-final, winning the second leg 2-0 at Durban’s Chatsworth Stadium on Saturday night.

Arrows’ dominance over Usuthu, and the Umlazi-based team’s accomplished passing style and skill on the ball — combined under bright young coach Manqoba Mngqithi with compactness in defence — will see them challenge Ajax strongly for the trophy.

In turn, Ajax’s pace, youth and zest under returned coach Muhsin Ertugral, embodied in their thrilling 3-3 second-leg draw at Orlando Stadium yesterday to win their semi-final 4-3 on aggregate, has set up a mouthwatering final.

On Saturday night Arrows recovered from a shaky start, where they were surprised by AmaZulu coach Neil Tovey’s 3-5-2 formation, to impressively exploit the gaps left by Usuthu.

Arrows’ opener was scored by captain Joseph Musonda, who was left unmarked to scoop in Richard Henyekane’s 13th-minute free-kick. The semi-final was wrapped up by lively left-wing Njabulo Manqana on the half-hour with a shot from outside the area.

Mngqithi, who guided Arrows to an impressive fifth place in the PSL last season, said his team have the quality to win the club’s first trophy.

“I wouldn’t want commit my players into saying this is the one, but we’ve got a very big chance.

“Our motto this season is ‘the time has come — let us stand up and be counted’,” the former Howick school teacher said.

“We have got the team, we have got the depth. It’s good for us that we can change five players and still win against competitive teams.

“As for the silverware — yes we are looking forward to getting a trophy. We are not too sure whether it’s this one or at a later time. But we I’m sure we will challenge for it.”

The Arrows coach said he is not overly concerned about his team’s inexperience in finals against a seasoned side like Ajax.

“I think this issue of experience at times confuses, because Ajax had to start somewhere. There are times when it’s inevitable to stop someone from achieving what he wants to, regardless of experience.

“It depends on the preparation and readiness of the players on the day.”

Mngqithi said he had been surprised by Tovey using three central defenders and pushing left-back Mark van Heerden into an attacking role on Saturday night.

“When they pushed Van Heerden forward it became clear they might have a numerical advantage in midfield. But that also opened them up to be exposed to the counter-attack.

“AmaZulu were very competitive offensively. Their defenders let it loose in some instances where you would not expect them to be so open. But they were actually very difficult to beat.”

Tovey believes Arrows have a good chance of winning their first trophy by beating Ajax.

“If they keep up that same kind of enterprising play, and working together as a team — they’re very compact at times in defence — then they can go the whole way.

“They don’t have anyone to fear in this competition,” the AmaZulu coach said.

MTN8

Semi-finals, second leg

Yesterday: Kaizer Chiefs 3 Ajax Cape Town 3 (Ajax won 5-4 on aggregate)

Saturday: Lamontville Golden Arrows 2 AmaZulu 0 (Arrows won 4-1 on aggregate)

Final: Arrows v Ajax (September 26)

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