Ajax assistant Marlin lambastes team after Nedbank Cup loss
TS Sporting beat Ajax Cape Town 4-3 on penalties following a 2-2 draw after extra time at the Athlone Stadium last night to advance to the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup.
The two GladAfrica Championship teams left it to their goalkeepers to settle the tie, and it was Sporting’s Oscarine Masuluke who landed the killer blow to beat opposite number Darren Johnson, his powerful shot penetrating the roof of the net.
Ajax, the current frontrunners in their league, have only themselves to blame for losing to the same opposition for the second time in row.
The Urban Warriors showed character to come back twice when trailing in regulation but made a bad mistake in defence during the second half that they totally dominated to allow their rivals to take a 2-1 lead in the first half of 15 minutes of extra time.
Sporting’s tall striker Katlego Mojela, who had replaced Sifiso Myeni, beat Johnson in the 101st minute.
The home side’s supporters had vented their frustrations at referee Jelly Chavani for some calls they felt went against their side and would have felt at this point that it wasn’t going to be their night to celebrate. But they kept on urging for a final response and got it in the final minutes of the game when Siphesihle Mkhize headed home a cross into the penalty area from partner Grant Margeman to ensure that the game ended in a 2-2 draw and a penalty shootout followed.
Ajax’s rookie keeper Johnson saved two spot kicks but wasn’t able to stop Masuluke’s bullet that was directed down the middle, handing the men from Mpumalanga the victory and spot in the next round of the competition that last year was one by Championship team TS Galaxy, who downed Kaizer Chiefs in the final.
Abantu Bemthetho will take heart from that shock result and press on feeling that anything is possible in a tournament that has provided massive upsets in past years.
Sporting’s first goal in the 17th minute was scored by man of the match Mbulelo Wagaba who went on a solo run dribbling past a few defenders before beating Johnson with a well-placed shot. It was only his second game for the club and he looks a lively talent on the right wing.
Ajax had to wait until the final minutes of regulation time to draw level through substitute Sonwabile Mfecane, who headed home from close range from an incoming corner.
They then had a chance to win it outright but sub Jemondre Dickens wasn’t up to the challenge when it mattered most.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we played,” said Calvin Marlin, one of two assistant coaches of Ajax. “The way we conceded goals was unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s amazing how a player can walk through three, four players and half a shot gets in. Then the second goal conceded, Sporting’s only other chance of the match. For us, we scored the two but every game we can’t keep coming back and hoping and hoping that we are going to score three of four goals and keep conceding at the back.”
Mike de Bruyn