Ajax has had a majority stake in Ajax Cape Town in South Africa since 1999. In the Message from Cape Town column, we focus on the African Ajax team every Monday. In this edition, we look back on Ajax Cape Town’s tough agenda for March, including their dramatic elimination in the Nedbank Cup and their loss to Mamelodi Sundowns.
Things seemed to be going so well for Ajax Cape Town. The first match of the difficult schedule was met with confidence. In Durban, where a tropical storm had brought much rain, Maarten Stekelenburg’s team was 2-1 ahead thanks to goals by Tafadzwa Paul Rusike en Thembinkosi Fanteni. But fifteen minutes before the end, the referee blew the final whistle. The field of the Moses Mabhida Stadium had been transformed into a huge puddle, making it impossible to play. And, unlike in the Netherlands, the entire match was to be replayed a few days later, from square one. The replay was planned for Tuesday night.
Ajax CT came into the lead twice. Khame Billiat put the Cape Town team ahead 2-0, before Amazulu came back into the match and made it 2-2. Ajax Cape Town still seemed at an advantage when Fantini put the guests in the lead. Although Ajax had had opportunities to broaden their lead, and keeper Sean Roberts had nullified the home team’s attempts, fate took over. The fourth goal, scored by Billiat, was disqualified and Amazulu scored in the last minute to bring them even, 3-3. Stekelenburg’s team didn’t manage to score in extra time, and Cape Town got the short end of the stick during penalties. After 195 minutes of play, plus the time for the penalty shots, Ajax Cape Town exited the Nedbank Cup. Despite the loss, the coach was satisfied, as he said on Ajax Cape Town’s website: “We started off very well, but, at 2-0, we made the mistake of letting Amazulu back into the game. But I’m proud of my players, although I would have loved to have won.”
Due to the delayed cup match, the competition match against Kaizer Chiefs was moved also. The confrontation was back on the agenda last Sunday. Johan Neeskens’s Mamelodi Sundowns were the opponents. Ajax had defeated Sundowns earlier this season. Stekelenburg’s team sought a quick goal and almost got it. But Vilikazi, Maluleka and Jenniker were unfortunate in their finish. Right after the referee had dismissed a request from Ajax Cape Town for a penalty kick, Sundowns scored the opening goal. In the second half, former Ajax player Johan Neeskens’s team made it 0-3. Ajax Cape Town is now in seventh place in the competition, trailing the leader by nine points, with eleven games left to play.