AJAX Cape Town are the 2015 MTN8 champions following a 1-0 win over Kaizer Chiefs at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Nathan Paulse’s second-half penalty proved to be the difference between the two side’s as Roger de Sa and the Urban Warriors buried the disappointment of losing in the Nedbank Cup final at the same venue a few months ago.
A lot was made about how Ajax were going to approach the game and early signs suggested they were going to play the long ball to the imposing Paulse.
With Erick Mathoho having just recovered from a shoulder injury, Paulse looked to dominate the Bafana Bafana defender with the likes of Toriq Losper picking up the scraps.
Paulse had the first chance at goal with eight minutes on the clock, guiding Cecil Lolo’s cross over the crossbar.
The Urban Warriors continued to dominate proceedings and had the ball in the back of the net in the 23rd minute.
Chiefs were commanding from set plays last season, but have been exposed at the back from dead ball situations during the current campaign – Ajax looked to have taken full advantage with Mosa Lebusa heading the ball past Itumeleng Khune, but the assistants flag was raised for offside.
A contentious decision as Lebusa was onside, but the call was against Paulse who seemingly interfered with play.
The Ajax striker was everywhere and was unlucky to see his shot from Lolo’s cross rattle the woodwork five minutes later.
Khune had to be on his toes to deny Abbubaker Mobara in the 33rd minute, but despite all the pressure the Cape side had nothing to show for it.
This threatened to haunt them as Chiefs came out stronger after the break, but Ajax would finally have their chance to take the lead in the 56th minute following a foul on Paulse by Mathoho inside the area.
The lanky forward duly slotted the ball past Khune ,who was rooted to his spot, to give the Cape side a deserved lead.
Having seen his side fall behind, Steve Komphela introduced Camaldine Abraw and Edward Manqele before the hour.
The duo had little impact with Abraw seeing his bicycle kick fly wide of Anssi Jaakkola left-hand post.
Jaakkola was at times a mere spectator throughout the 90, but kept his concentration throughout and pulled off a stunning save to deny Willard Katsande the equalizer in stoppage time.
The Zimbabwean looked sure to net a rare goal, but the Finnish keeper was up to the task palming his header away from danger as Ajax held on to beat last year’s champions.
Kaizer Chiefs (0) 0
Ajax Cape Town (0) 1 (Paulse 56′ pen.)
Kaizer Chiefs: Khune; Gaxa, Mathoho, Xulu, Masilela, – Katsande – Letsholonyane, Tshabalala, Parker (Manqele 58′), Lebese (Maluleka 79′) – Mthembu (Abraw 58′)
Ajax Cape Town: Jaakkola; Lolo, Mobara, Coetzee, Lebusa – Mdabuka,Graham (Scott 85′), Mzwakali (Cale 82′), Norodien (E.Isaacs 73′) – Losper- Paulse.-Backpage TXT