United wipe the pitch with Ajax

2011-01-20 00:00

THERE was always a feeling that a talented and under-achieving Maritzburg United would click into gear at some stage, though few could have expected quite as convincing a victory as in last night’s 3-0 destruction of Ajax Cape Town at Harry Gwala Stadium.

Ajax came to Pietermaritzburg in second place, chasing the title and playing some of the best football in the league, which resulted in a stirring 1-0 home victory over Kaizer Chiefs on Friday night.

They would have left the KZN capital somewhat shell-shocked.

If there is one aspect of Foppe de Haan’s side that will see them slip up in the title race it is their inexperience. Perhaps that was what led to Ajax arriving in PMB apparently overconfident against a struggling United.

Unfortunately for the visitors Maritzburg put in about their most complete display yet, from goalkeeping to defence and pacy, menacing attack.

If there was one blemish it was again finishing and, almost unbelievably, United could have won 5-0 had they taken their opportunities.

The Team of Choice’s third win out of four matches left them in 13th at the halfway stage, and it was the sort of victory over top-class opposition that could really turn a season around.

New German defender Christian Alder made a solid debut for Maritzburg.

After a polished first 45 minutes United deserved to be a goal to the good at the break.

In the fourth minute Maritzburg had a confidence-bolstering lead. Kurt Lentjies’s corner from the left was palmed by Hans Vonk as far as unmarked Gert Schalkwyk on the right, whose volley was crisply struck into the roof of the net.

United started to run holes in the visitors’ defence.

A pass from John Arwuah played Felix Obada through, Vonk saving at the winger’s feet.

Then the Nigerian’s square-pass found Diyo Sibisi, whose attempt was deflected just wide.

United could have made it game over in the 36th minute. In a three-on-one Sibisi’s pass went astray but Rudolf Bester still did well to make space and crack his drive onto the right upright.

If United were worried about an Ajax counter-attack in the second half they needn’t have been. The home team might have had a few nervous moments at the back, but mostly they ran an increasingly out-of-shape visiting defence ragged.

Maritzburg got the crucial early second-half strike after Derek Descamps handled Lentjies’s free-kick. Bester placed the resultant spot-kick perfectly to Vonk’s right in the 49th minute.

In the 60th an excellent counter-attack saw Obada race down the right before the ball was worked via Schalkwyk to Lentjies free on the left, who shot wide.

Two minutes later a clearance from defence was glanced into the path of Schalkwyk by Sibisi’s header, but the United forward opted to chip from range with Vonk stranded, and his effort went high.

Stunning interplay between Sibisi and Obada teed up Schalkwyk on the left, whose casual attempt was saved by Vonk.

United were reminded a result was by no means certain when Thulani Serero hit the upright in the 75th.

But a minute later it was 3-0 with a pearler from Bester. Another quick counter saw Obada’s checked pass fall to the Namibian in the middle, who still had plenty to do to advance and finish past Vonk with the outside of his right boot.

And still the chances came. After Walters saved well from Fanteni’s curling strike, Bester ran strongly down the left and squared for Sibisi, who shot into Vonk’s legs.

Young debutant Rhees Evans replaced Obada in the 84th and soon produced a good cross for Sibisi, who ballooned his header.

Pirates vs Arrows

In Durban, Orlando Pirates gave their league title hopes a huge boost by romping home to a well deserved 2-0 win against hosts Lamontville Golden Arrows at the Chatsworth stadium last night.

Francis Chansa was named man of the match at the end of 90 minutes for his sterling efforts in the heart of midfield.

He drilled home a trademark thumping drive in the 28th minute past Arrows’ goalie Helton Da Rocha no chance. Pirates’ second goal came five minutes after the interval when Siyabonga Sangweni diverted Tlou Segolelala’s probing corner kick into his own goal.

Arrows had two chances in quick succession in the 20th minute.

Norikazu Murakami sent a header into the side-netting when he rose majestically to meet Itumuleng Duiker’s well-weighted cross.

Then, an unmarked Collins Mbesuma, who scored both goals against AmaZulu, directed a header wide from Siyabonga Nkosi’s cross.

Arrows should have upped the ante in the remaining minutes had Mbesuma converted when he came face to face with Pirates’ keeper Senzo Meyiwa, but the goalie was able to tip the Zambian’s stinging drive over his crossbar. Pirates controlled proceedings for the remaining minutes and could have gone further ahead in injury time when Mark Mayambela pulled clear of his markers, but Da Rocha blocked his low effort.

Chiefs vs AmaZulu

In Johannesburg at the FNB Stadium, Kaizer Chiefs kept up the pressure at the top of the Absa Premiership when they scored a well-deserved 3-1 over AmaZulu in an entertaining clash.

AmaZulu wasted the chance to draw first blood in the 11th minute when their industrious striker Lehlohonolo Majoro threaded through a superb ball for team-mate Tangeni Shipahu, who sent a powder puff shot straight at Chiefs’ keeper Itumeleng Khune.

Kaizer Motaung junior scored twice, bagging his first when he latched onto a clever cross from Abia Nale and fired past keeper Nhlanhla Khuzwayo to make it 1-0 from what looked a suspiciously offside position.

Nale almost made it 2-0 in the 15th minute when he chased down a long through-ball, but credit to Khuzwayo who closed the angle and forced the Chiefs’ winger to miss the target.

Usuthu missed the chance to equalise on 22 minutes when Shipahu sent a defence-splitting cross into the six-yard area only for Majoro to miss the ball.

Motaung junior had the small, but appreciative crowd on their feet when he headed home Jimmy Tau’s brilliant cross to make it 2-0 in the 36th minute.

The defeat plunges Usuthu closer to the relegation zone. The coastal side are now third bottom on 15 points. Chiefs held the upper-hand in a free-flowing first 45 minutes, watched by a paltry crowd of 6 000


Results from last night:

Maritzburg United 3 Ajax Cape Town 0, Moroka Swallows 3 Mpumalanga Black Aces 1, Platinum Stars 1 Wits University 0, Santos 1 Vasco Da Gama 0, SuperSport United 0 Free State Stars 0, Bloemfontein Celtic 1 Mamelodi Sundowns 1, Golden Arrows 0 Orlando Pirates 2, Kaizer Chiefs 3 AmaZulu 1


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