Santos sink Ajax to win Absa Cup

Cape Town - Santos won the inaugural Absa Cup soccer competition when the beat Ajax Cape Town 2-0 in the final played at Athlone Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Santos led 2-0 at half-time.

Santos coach Farouk Khan said on Friday that their game plan was to score an early goal. They did just that, but they made it two goals in the space of just four minutes.

They opened the score in the 18th minute when Edries Burton threw in, it was picked up by Jean-Marc Ithier who flicked on, and Tyron Arendse's volley flew into the net giving Moeneeb Joseph no chance in the Ajax goal.

Just four minutes later Santos doubled the score when Fees Moloi broke down the left, cut in and when the defence expected him to pass to the unmarked Ithier, he let go a powerful shot which flew past Joseph.

Before the kick off a helicopter delivered the Absa Cup to the stadium and both team owners, Goolam Alie from Santos and John Comitis of Ajax, carried the Cup around the field to the delight of the 12 000 fans in the packed stadium.

Despite the congestion within the stadium there were no unpleasant incidents from the fans and the match was played in a good spirit.

The hero for Santos was undoubtedly Andre Arendese who brought off a number of excellent saves. "This was a good game for us today," said the Santos goalkeeper. "I'm particularly grateful to the crowd. The behaved very well and they spurred us on to victory."

Commenting on his future, Arendse said: "I will go on playing as long as my body can take it." He also had no plans to move away from Santos.

Boebie Solomons, co-coach of the People's Team said he was obviously very happy with the result. "We have had a lot of staff changes which has been unsettling for the players. There will be some changes in the future as we try to inject some to young blood into the team but we are planning for the next three years.

"We've had a rough time this year but I am proud of the boys for stabilising the position and pulling off a win like this."

Ajax coach Gordon Igesund said on the day that Santos deserved their victory. "I felt though we were in control for the first 25 minutes but in that period Santos got two breakaway goals. My youngsters could just not deal with the experience of the Santos players."

Arendse showed his mettle in the 31st minute when Robert Nauseb ran through and shot, but the Santos keeper managed to stop the ball with his legs. Four minutes later Bradley August's powerful header was saved as Arendse dived to his right.

Ajax brought on striker Nathan Paulse at the interval to strengthen their attack. This gave them plenty of power up front but the Santos defence, which included John Mbidzo and Burton, kept them at bay.

The move left the Ajax defence vulnerable, however, Santos failed to capitalise. In the 49th minute Arendse could not hold on to a powerful shot as the ball ran to August, but his soft shot was cleared off the goal-line by Mbidzo.

In the 72nd minute Igesund brought on his son, Grant, with the aim of strengthening his strike force but they were unable to penetrate the Santos defence.

With just a few minutes to go Ajax's Brent Carelse, with Arendse out of his goal, miskicked from five metres. - Sapa


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