Extra time aCHIEFers

2008-03-15 00:00

KAIZER Chiefs have been a sleeping giant for most of the season, but suddenly they have sprung to life with successive victories, and last night’s by 2-0 over an outpaced Ajax Cape Town put Amakhosi into the last-16 of the Nedbank Cup.

Chiefs’ victory, to follow their 4-1 league defeat of Free State Stars last weekend, came via a fast-paced, exciting and at times crazy and infuriating game. Seldom can a football team have had a match there for the taking and have spurned as many chances before finally sealing the game with two goals in three minutes in the second half of injury time.

As could have been expected between the teams of the Ajax coach of last season, Chiefs’ Muhsin Ertugral, and his protégé successor at the Capetonians, Craig Rosslee, both sides played neat, compact attacking football. Ajax, though, appeared either to have their minds on their league title race, or were jaded from the effort of it.

Chiefs were unable to capitalise on that lethargy, as they largely laid siege to the Ajax goal, missing countless chances until finally breaking through in the 109th minute via Fabian McCarthy’s penalty.

Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, sitting in the stands, would have enjoyed the carpet football and glut of goalmouth action, but not the finishing.

Rosslee, after the injury to captain and goalkeeper Hans Vonk, opted for third choice Morgan Cathey ahead of Andre Petim, and the unknown American had a busy night on his debut.

The absence of left-wing Franklyn Cale for Ajax gave Chiefs‚ right-back Jimmy Tau free reign to go forward and swing in crosses.

Ertugral preferred Jonathan Quartey ahead of Derrick Spencer to fill the defensive midfield role vacated by suspended Tinashe Nengomasha.

Early on Mabhudi Khenyeza blasted over. McCarthy’s poor clearance almost gifted Ajax an opener, ending with the ball played to Mfundo Shumana, whose shot was straight at Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.

The chances then came thick and fast for Chiefs. Khenyeza first sliced his connection wide from Siphiwe Tshabalala’s cross. Then the striker turned provider, beating Ajax right-back Dominic Isaacs and feeding Shaun Bartlett, who fluffed his shot straight to Cathey.

Ajax showed they were still in the game when Nhlanhla Shabalala’s strike hit the outside of Khune’s right upright, before a gem of a cross from Tau was headed wide by Bartlett.

Chiefs missed another superb chance in the 54th minute, Tau’s cross classically knocked down by Bartlett into the path of Sibeko to volley straight at Cathey from five metres.

Striker Russell Mwafulirwa began to trouble the Chiefs defence, bursting through to force a save from Khune, then controlling Moon’s cross, only to see his shot cannon off the crossbar in the 72nd minute.

Eight minutes earlier Mathebula’s looping volley had also struck the bar for Chiefs after receiving a half-clearance from Brett Evans. In the 77th minute Cathey made a great double save from Khenyeza and Bartlett.

Siphiwe Tshabalala weaved into the area and his shot appeared to be stopped by the hand of Bageta Dikilu, but inexperienced referee Thabo Nkosi waved play on.

In the first half of extra time substitute Kaizer Motaung Junior’s shot was cleared off the line by Daniels. Just into the second half Khenyeza was brought down by Daniels in the area, and this time Nkosi did point to the spot. McCarthy hit straight, Cathey dived left, and after 109 minutes a Chiefs player had the ball in the net.

Then Phala fed Khenyeza through to beat the offside trap and slot past Cathey and make two it goals in three minutes.

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