Chiefs claim extra time victory


In a match filled with chances at either end, it was somewhat surprising that the teams remained deadlocked after 90 minutes, sending the tie into extra time.

It was then that Amakhosi struck twice, first from a disputed penalty by Fabian McCarthy, then with Mabhuti Khenyeza’s finish.

In an open first half, the better of the chances fell to Chiefs and the wasteful front pairing of Khenyeza and Shaun Bartlett, who found numerous promising positions, but could not beat debutant Ajax goalkeeper Morgan Cathey.

Khenyeza fired over early on, before shooting straight at the young American stopper. Bartlett found space in the six-yard box, but could only direct a tame effort on goal that Cathey gratefully clutched to his chest.

At the other end, Dikulu Bageta forced a good save from Itumeleng Khune in the 17th minutes from a free-kick just outside the area, while Mfundo Shumana worked a shooting chance on the edge of the area, but again Khune was well-positioned to save.

Bartlett should have given Amakhosi the lead just after the half-hour mark when he rose majestically to head Jimmy Tau’s cross, but the ball landed just the wrong side of the post.

Ajax began to win the lion’s share of possession as the half wore on, but despite seeing plenty of the ball in midfield, failed to fashion out any clear-cut chances in front of goal.

Chiefs almost took the lead eight minutes into the second half when Bartlett’s cushioned header found Gerald Sibeko, whose shot was brilliantly saved by Cathey, though in truth the midfielder’s effort was far too close to the keeper with the goal at his mercy.

Russell Mwafulirwa almost rounded off an excellent Ajax move when he was put into space, but met his match in the onrushing Khune, who was off his line in a flash to clear the danger.

But Chiefs were getting closer as Onismor Bhasera hit the bar with a floated shot after Cathey was caught off his line, while Khenyeza failed to make the most of the rebound and Ajax scrambled the ball to safety.

The end-to-end nature of the game continued as Cathey booted a long ball downfield and Mokete Tsotetsi allowed Mwafulirwa to bear down on goal, but the Malawian striker scuffed his shot.

And the big striker went even closer soon afterwards as he outwitted McCarthy this time and thundered in a shot from 10 yards that smashed into the crossbar and away.

Bartlett and Khenyeza somehow then managed to blow another superb opportunity for Chiefs. The latter’s shot was knocked into the path of Bartlett, and with the goal seemingly at his mercy, the veteran striker side-footed a shot that Cathey somehow palmed to safety.

Chiefs were denied what looked like a blatant penalty in the dying seconds of injurytime when Siphiwe Tshabalala’s shot hit Bageta on the hand, but referee Thabo Nkosi waved away the Amakhosi protests.

Substitute Nathan Paulse had an excellent chance to give Ajax the lead 10 minutes into extra time, but he couldn’t direct his free header on goal.

Chiefs did finally get their penalty just a minute into the second period of extra time with a soft award from referee Nkosi as Clayton Daniels was adjudged to have brought down Khenyeza. Although it looked more of a dive from the striker, perhaps justice was done for the earlier shout that wasn’t given.

McCarthy blasted the ball right down the middle of the goal and Chiefs at last found the back of the net on a night when they missed a plethora of chances.

And the tie was sealed with nine minutes remaining when Khenyeza beat the offside trap from Derrick Spencer’s pass and easily beat the woefully exposed Cathey.