Ajax prevail in extra time
George Maluleka (Backpage)
Cape Town - Ajax Cape Town made heavy weather of their Telkom Knockout clash with Free State Stars at Athlone on Sunday, needing extra time to secure a 1-0 win.
Stars had some good possession in the early stages of play, but it was the Cape side which had all the opportunities in and around the box.
With 10 minutes gone Lebogang Manyama pulled the trigger for Ajax after a goal-mouth scramble, but saw his effort deflected just wide.
George Maluleka was unlucky not to put the hosts ahead in the 25th minute when he hammered a free kick against the crossbar.
A minute later the urban warriors were again denied by the woodwork as Stars keeper Kennedy Mweene's save from Khama Billiat saw the ball go out for a corner.
There were no further clear-cut chances at either end for the remainder of the half as the teams went into the break scoreless.
Ajax had the first chance of the second half when rookie striker Alcardo van Graan almost caught Mweene out of position with a speculative effort from some distance that went a yard wide.
Five minutes after the break Ea Lla Koto had a good chance to go ahead, but Daniel Agbagwu directed his shot far too close to Ajax keeper Sander Westerveld, who got down smartly to make a very good save.
It was to be Maluleka, without a goal all season, who finally proved to be the difference between the two sides. In the 96th minute he ran on to Terror Fanteni's nicely weighted pass and coolly slotted the ball low past Mweene to make it 1-0 to Ajax.
Both Maluleka and Khama Billiat had chances to extend the Urban Warriors' lead but squandered relatively simple chances in front of goal.