KAIZER Chiefs ensured that the race for the Absa Premiership title will go down to the last day of the season by thrashing log leaders Ajax Cape Town 4-0 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
In a stunning performance that revitalised their hopes of winning the title, the Amakhosi surged into a 3-0 half time lead through goals from Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Knowledge Musona and Siphiwe Tshabalala. ‘Shabba’ added a fourth in the second half, securing him the Man of the Match award.
Chiefs should have had been awarded a penalty in just the second minute of the match. Winger Mandla Masango was first impeded by a clumsy challenge from Clayton Daniels and then clearly tripped up by the hands of Hans Vonk, but referee Robert Sithole and his assistant ignored the home team’s strong appeals for a spot kick.
That early incident set the tone for the first half, with Chiefs utterly overrunning the log leaders and consistently breaching their backline through a combination of incisive passing and clever movement off the ball.
The Amakhosi created several great scoring opportunities before finally surging ahead in the 21st minute. Ajax had failed to reorganise in defence after a Chiefs corner kick, and Josta Dladla was able to put Reneilwe Letsholonyane in a good shooting position – the dreadlocked midfielder provided a cool finish past Vonk’s right hand.
Twelve minutes later Siphiwe Tshabalala mesmerised the Ajax defence with a brilliant penetrative run before chipping the ball over Vonk and towards goal. Striker Knowledge Musona finished off the chance with a diving header to make it 2-0.
With the Cape side made to look utterly pedestrian, particularly in midfield, coach Foppe de Haan was forced into an unscheduled early substitution, pulling off Willard Katsande and replacing him with Nhlanhla Vilakazi, though the change made little immediate difference.
The Soweto giants added to their advantage three minutes before the end of the first half. This time Tshabalala was the scorer, finishing crisply with his left foot after arriving late in the box to latch onto a clever pull-back from Dladla.
The second half was more evenly matched, with the Urban Warriors (who surely got a roasting at the break from de Haan) looking much sharper in both attack and defence.
However, the visitors’ improvement was not enough to stop Amakhosi adding to their advantage midway through the second half. Masango found himself through on goal but unselfishly squared the ball for Tshabalala to score a tap-in and make it 4-0.
Both sides created further chances in the remainder of the game, with Ajax perhaps having more of the opportunities, but the excellent Itumeleng Khune ensured that the Amakhosi kept a clean sheet in what was certainly their best performance of the season.
The result leaves Ajax top of the log on 59 points, Orlando Pirates (who drew 1-1 away to Santos) are second on 57, and Chiefs are just a further point back with a significantly better goal difference than the two teams above them. Where will the title go? May 21 will reveal all.-Backpagepix