Ajax survive chiefs raid

Thami Mqolobe

Thami Mqolobe

Even though it was a question of "fortune favours the brave" when Ajax Cape Town survived a possible defeat by Kaizer Chiefs, they still remain favourites to win the R10million 2007-08 Absa Premiership crown.

Ajax coach Craig Roslee spoke to Sowetan after his side drew 1-1 against Chiefs in a thrilling encounter before a fully packed Athlone Stadium on Saturday.

"We played well and I thought we had the maximum points in the bag, but we allowed Kaizer Chiefs to come back and they forced us to fall back and defend. My guys were a bit tired towards the end of the game, but I will work on that aspect at training," said Roslee.

"Our goal is to win the league and everybody knows that and we will fight and die on the field in order to fulfil our mission."

His counterpart at Amakhosi, Muhsin Ertugral, felt his side should have wrapped up the game in the first half. But poor finishing by his strikers is still their undoing.

"Though we are playing good football, my concern is poor finishing up front. We dominated the game and never gave Ajax space as we closed them down. I thought we had the points but we missed a penalty as well," said a dejected Ertugral.

The Chiefs mentor could not believe it when his side were awarded a penalty by referee Daniel Bennet in the 81st minute after Ajax's Nhlanhla Shabalala handled the ball inside the box in a bid to clear.

From the resultant penalty kick, substitute David Obua's shot flew over the crossbar.

The visitors' striker, Mabhuti Khenyeza, fluffed two scoring chances in the fourth and 11th minutes with only the home side's keeper, Hans Vonk, to beat.

Khenyeza went on to hit the upright in the 16th minute to deny Chiefs yet another goal-scoring chance.

The Urban Warriors took the lead through lanky striker Nathan Paulse, who tapped the ball past a bemused Itumeleng Khune in the Chiefs goal in the 48th minute. This was as a result of a pass from teammate Russel Mwafulirwa.

Chiefs came back strongly and levelled matters in the 66th minute when substitute Kaizer Motaung Jnr connected the ball after Ajax's defence failed to clear Siphiwe Tshabalala's cross and his shot hit the back of the net, making the final score 1-1.