Chiefs’ win ‘a stepping stone to bigger things’

2010-04-12 00:00

KAIZER Chiefs’ 2-1 victory over Ajax Cape Town in Saturday night’s Telkom Knockout final at King’s Park is a stepping stone towards bigger things to come, said Amakhosi’s Serbian coach Vladimir Vermezovic after the game.

In an engrossing final South Africa’s most-loved football club earned the trophy they have yearned for in the year of their 40th anniversary, to the delight of their awesome support at a packed King’s Park.

Ajax, though, will be kicking themselves for not making more of a game of their second cup final of the season. Ajax lost 6-0 to Lamontville Golden Arrows in the MTN8 final at Orlando Stadium in September.

A goalkeeping error by Hans Vonk, spilling Punch Masanamela’s low cross across goal for Mandla Masango to stab home from close range in the 20th minute, led to Chiefs’ opener when Ajax were well on top of the opening period.

Then a defensive error killed off the game seconds after the restart for the second half, as Clayton Daniels played an effective one-two to put Chiefs striker Knowledge Musona into the area to make it 2-0.

Ajax fought hard all game, and were rewarded when Dominic Isaacs’ desperate intercept of Nathan Paulse’s cross fell kindly for Diyo Sibisi to slam home in the 85th minute. But it was too little too late for the Capetonians, as ultimately Chiefs had the class to capitalise on their chances and take the victory.

Vermezovic said his first trophy in his first season at Chiefs is a precursor for higher achievements.

“For us this cup is only one stage towards something bigger. And we have a lot of time and space to work towards that. And who knows, maybe in the next cup [the Nedbank Cup], we will play Ajax again in the final,” the Serb said.

Asked to define what he meant by bigger things to come, Vermezovic said: “Something bigger is the Champions League in Africa. That is our long-term goal.”

Ajax coach Foppe De Haan admitted that his side’s two blunders in defence effectively cost his side the game.

“In the first 20 minutes we played with guts and were very positive and adventurous, always probing and going forward and controlled the game,” the Dutchman said.

“After that we were out of control, we ran too much with the ball and panicked and played it from deep.

“At half-time I told the players to play our game and to be the boss of the field. Then we were a bit unlucky with the mistake made by Clayton Daniels and from there we had to change our tactics.

“It was just a pity we scored too late, otherwise it would have been a really exciting finish to the game.

“I think our two big faults [errors] really cost us. If you look at the chances they had and those we created, the ones we conceded were from personal faults by us.

“If you want to win a game like this you can’t make these mistakes.”

Vermezovic hit back at newspaper reports labelling him “arrogant” ahead of the final.

“It’s nice to win a trophy. First I’m happy for my players — tonight they received the benefits of their hard work.

“My players have been reading in newspapers in the last few weeks that I’m so arrogant, but you know if believing in my players is arrogance, then yes I am arrogant. If believing in God is arrogance, yes I’m arrogant.

“My players know sometimes I scream and shout, but I’m right behind them,” the coach said.

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