Vilakazi hat-trick puts Ajax through

2008-11-30 00:00

Diyo Sibisi scored a brace for Free State Stars in their Telkom Knockout semi-final against Ajax Cape Town in East London yesterday, but his effort was eclipsed by Sifiso Vilakazi’s hat-trick in a 3-2 victory to the Capetonians.

It was another drama-filled afternoon in the semi-final stages of the R4,25-million first prize competition, as Ajax joined Orlando Pirates in what should be an intriguing final on December 13 at a venue still to be decided.

Yesterday’s exciting semi, with two teams punching at each other at each end, still never quite delivered the sumptuous, slick-as-oil passing football dished out by Pirates in front of 23 012 supporters in a 3-0 victory over Bloemfontein Celtic at Chatsworth Stadium on Saturday night.

Unfortunately, though, that game was tarnished by a horrendous error by referee Abdul Ebrahim, who sent off the wrong Celtic player — striker Goeffrey Sserenkuma instead of defender Cyrille Mubiala — just before the break for an elbow on Gilbert Mushangazikhe.

It is questionable whether the error in identity would have made any difference. With Pirates in ruthless and efficient form under Dutchman Ruud Krol, a Celtic team already 1-0 down and reduced to 10 men would always have been lambs to the slaughter.

But indications are that there was minimal contact between Mubiala and Mushangazikhe anyway, and, as disheartened Celtic coach Mich D’Avray pointed out afterwards, also doubt whether there was intent from his player.

“It was a big decision by the referee to send the player off, and apparently it was the wrong player,” D’Avray said. “And I’m not sure there was intent there. There has to be an intent to foul for it be a red-cardable offence.”

The decision ruined the game as a contest and threatened to take some of the gloss off Pirates’ rampant display, though the Buccaneers’ form at present can only be described as irresistible.

Yesterday’s match might not have been quite as refined, but certainly served up plenty of attacking football and goalmouth action.

Sibisi set the tone in the 14th minute when he slammed home his close-range finish after the miscued shot of Siyabonga Mdluli fell to the big, battering-ram striker lurking near the right-hand upright.

Ajax equalised, then took the lead within the space of three minutes just before the break. Vilakazi snuck in an opportunistic header at the near post in the 38th. Then Sameegh Doutie’s shot from 25 metres rattled the crossbar and fell to Vilakazi, who blasted his second past Stars goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.

Dibisi notched up his second brace of the competition — his first was in Stars’ 2-0 first-round win over Maritzburg United — when he headed in at the far post after a flick-on at a free-kick by Jon Mensah in the 65th.

But it was Vilakazi — playing against his old team, whom he left to join Ajax at the beginning of last season — who had the last word, slotting a finish after being teed up in the area by Eduardo Ferreira in the 67th minute.

On Saturday, Bucs opened the scoring when Celtic defender Ditheko Mototo clattered down Mushangazikhe in the area, and Lucas Thwala slotted the 39th-minute penalty.

Pirates finished off 10-man Celtic in clinical and stylish fashion. In the 75th minute Teko Modise’s free-kick from the right was missed by two Celtic defenders for Benson Mhlongo to blast in easily at the far post. Then Modise got the deftest of touches to flick the ball into the path of substitute Bennett Chenene, who finished easily past Celtic ’keeper Patrick Tignyemb in the 87th.

Telkom Knockout semi-finals

Saturday: Bloemfontein Celtic 0 Orlando Pirates 3

Yesterday: Free State Stars 2 Ajax Cape Town 3

Final: December 13

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