Ajax shock Sundowns
Tawfeeq Salie makes debut (Gallo)
Pretoria - Mamelodi Sundowns lost 2-0 to Ajax Cape Town in an Absa Premiership match at Atteridgeville’s Super Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Due to the loss, the Brazilians failed to finish in the top eight. Instead, the Urban Warriors did qualify for next season’s MTN8 competition.
The 17-year-old Tawfeeq Salie made his debut in goal for the Urban Warriors, as first choice keeper Andre Petim was suspended and his deputy Sean Robert was still out injured. The Brazilians, meanwhile, had again former Bafana star Sibusiso Zuma starting on the bench.
Both teams needed points with Ajax being in seventh position before the start of the game (with 43 points), while Mamelodi Sundowns was even out of the top eight (ninth position, having 40 points). Shockingly, only a few hundred supporters bothered to attend this crucial match.
The match was also the last game for Craig Rosslee in charge of the Cape Town-based team, while Sundowns caretaker coach Ted Dumitru’s future is uncertain.
The Brazilians had most of the ball possession, but their play was so slow that they didn’t really bother the Ajax defence. Still, the home team got a few opportunities but Phelelane Mpangase (header from a corner) and Katlego Mphela (shot at goal) failed to score.
Looking at Sundowns’ play, it’s also a mystery why Mphela has been selected for the Bafana squad to play in the Confederations Cup.
Instead, it was Ajax that took the lead in the 38th minute when Mpangase failed to clear properly in the Sundowns defence. Mkhanyiseli Siwahla said 'thank you' and finished nicely, leaving the Brazilians keeper Brian Baloyi with no chance.
Soon after the break, Sundowns coach Dumitru decided to ring the changes. First, he took off the disappointing Mphela for Zuma, followed a couple of minutes later by Thando Mngomeni, who was replaced by former Kaizer Chiefs winger Thuso Phala.
Sundowns did get their chances in the second half, but again they struggled to take them. Defender Siboniso Gaxa and Phala were both guilty of not scoring, although Ajax’s debutant keeper Salie also made some fine saves. That was especially the case when he blocked a shot from Collins Mbesuma from going in goal.
At least the Brazilians showed some fighting spirit in the second half with Chilean midfielder Jorge Acuna often being the inspirator behind that passion to try and go with the equaliser.
Ajax finally settled the game in the dying minutes when substitute Thulani Serero scored from close range after some fine work by winger Franklin Cale.
It’s a shocking end of the season for Sundowns as the former league champions ended outside the top eight. It’s back to the drawing board for the club owned by business magnate Patrice Motsepe.