Ajax Cape Town collected three valuable points in their quest to stay clear of the relegation battle, as they beat Orlando Pirates 3-0 in an Absa Premiership match played at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Pirates’ much-talked-about Achilles’ Heel, in the form of their ability to defend against set-pieces, once again cost them dearly when Ajax defender Mosa Lebusa headed home past a despairing Pirates goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane in the 11th minute.
The goal seemed to jolt Pirates into life and thereafter Ajax had precious little ball possession in the middle of the park. Ajax’s best chance was to catch the Buccaneers on the counter-attack and this happened in the 32nd minute.
Midfielder Grant Magerman played a superb ball through to unleash the speedy Tendai Ndoro on the right. The Zimbabwean played the ball into the penalty area and Magerman did his best to get to the return ball, but it fell for Yannick Zakri, who tapped the ball past Mabokgwane to double the home team’s lead.
In the 83rd minute, Zakri scored his second goal of the game and his team’s third, when he finished off some fine Ajax attacking play in which Siyanda Zwane worked hard in the build-up.
Ajax goalkeeper Brandon Petersen suffered light concussion as early as the 7th minute when his defender Mario Booysen collided with him as he looked to clear a Pirates raid on the home team goal. The Urban Warriors’ No 1 battled on manfully, but eventually gave in to the pain shortly before halftime, with substitute goalkeeper Jody February taking over the gloves.
Besides the goalkeeper change, Ajax coach Muhsin Ertugral made two other changes in the first 45 minutes. The substitution of Tashreeq Morris for Ndiviwe Mdabuka in the 33rd minute was a tactical one as the former Kaizer Chiefs and Pirates mentor looked to get some control in the midfield.
On the stroke of halftime, Lebusa picked up an injury which prevented him from taking to the field in the second half with Isaac Nhlapo replacing him. This meant that the hosts had used up all their substitutions within the first 45 minutes.
Pirates had maximum possession in the second period, with Ajax’s February forced to pull off several fine saves to allow his club to register their first win over Pirates in seven years.
Earlier in the day, Ndoro was cleared to play for the Cape side by the PSL’s Dispute Resolution Chamber. This was a result of Ndoro having allegedly fallen foul of the Fifa rule that states that a player cannot play for three clubs in one football season. During the current season, Ndoro has worn the colours of Pirates, Saudi Arabian side Al Faisaly and now Ajax.
The win for the relegation-threatened Ajax, took them to 20 points from as many games, and 5 points ahead of bottom-of-the-log Platinum Stars who have played one match less. The Capetonians’ next league match will be an away encounter against Polokwane City on Sunday.
Pirates, who surrendered their four-match unbeaten league run at a time when they were closing in on log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, remain on 30 points from 20 games and will go back to the drawing board to prepare for Saturday’s home fixture against Maritzburg United.
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