JOHANNESBURG – Chippa United missed a rare opportunity to go to the top of the Absa Premiership table in a double whammy of a blow here as Ajax Cape Town pulled off a 1-0 victory on Saturday night.
Not only did the Chilli Boys square a chance to break away from their stuttering rivals in the top half of the log, but coach Teboho Moloi also surrendered his remarkable 10-game unbeaten run since taking over in the interim from Dan Malesela in September.
A goal from Thabo Mosadi in the first half proved enough to half Chippa in their tracks, especially from the high of beating Kazier Chiefs by the same scoreline on Wednesday night in Port Elizabeth.
They were confident coming here to face an Ajax side that’s looked disjointed for much of this season, and had not managed to win any of their previous four league games.
Mosadi’s goal, well taken to beat goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi with a powerfully struck shot on the near post following a burst of pace to leave the Chippa back four for dead, was deflating enough for the visitors.
But the red card to right back Zitha Macheke was even harder to swallow.
Referee Olwani Kwinda, relatively new in the top-flight scene, consulted with fourth official Victor Gomes after Macheke’s reckless tackle on goal scorer Mosadi just on the stroke of halftime and decision was to send him for an early shower.
Man of the Moment 🚀🎯🎉
1️⃣ word to describe Thabo Mosadi’s GOLAZO . pic.twitter.com/mqBUJfWD2F
A 10-man Chippa doubled their efforts in the second half, however, putting Ajax under pressure, but failing to break their resolute rearguard.
Moloi had resisted the urge to tinker with the side after the midweek win against Chiefs – the only changed was forced because of suspension to midfielder and scorer of the winning goal against Amakhosi in Abel Mabaso.
Given that it was such a high intensity game, you could see the legs start to give, and the red card didn’t help Chippa either, who remained on 19 points from 14 games and dropped down to fourth place in the Premier League table.
But credit must also go to Ajax, who may view this win as perhaps the beginning of the end of their winless streak.
And that it came against a high-flying Chippa will also go a long way in gearing them up for what is possibly a relegation scrap for them yet again in this campaign.
It was extremely tough for the Urban Warriors to have to play their home game in Johannesburg due to the water crisis in Cape Town and the unwillingness from the municipality to avail some of its posh facilities for football to thrive there.
So, to win here, the same venue where they held reigning champions Bidvest Wits to a goalless draw earlier in the week, is a huge psychological battle that they have overcome.
If they can build from here, the second half of the season could turn out differently, with Kaizer Chiefs their final fixture in 2017 later on this week.
Chippa went on to finish the game with nine players after Akpeyi was also sent off for obstruction with the match all but over.