Santos Victorious In Absa Cup

Santos have added the Absa Cup to their trophy cabinet after a 2-0 victory over fellow Cape Town side Ajax in a pulsating final at Athlone on Saturday afternoon. The match was a great advert for Cape football, with the People's Team taking home the R 1.5 million winners' cheque.

Urban Warriors coach Gordon Igesund was able to name a full-strength side for the final, but Santos were missing key goalscorer Carlo Scott, who broke a bone in his foot in training in midweek.

After a bright start to the game, Ajax earned two corners down the right, both of which were played short without much end product.

A few minutes later, Santos striker Fees Moloi saw his header in space go wide of the mark but the offside flag was up in any case, though the People's Team had sounded a warning of their ability going forward.

Ajax were beginning to come more into the game, however, and first Santos goalkeeper Andre Arendse had to be smart off his line to get to beat Bradley August to a cross, and then the former Bafana Bafana striker had another chance to turn in the box, only to be forced out wide by the Santos defence.

Jean-Marc Ithier had the chance to shoot for goal after 15 minutes after being set up on the edge of the area by Moloi, but all he found was fresh-air with his swinging boot and the danger was cleared.

But some hesitant defending in the Ajax box from Sipho Nzudzo in the eighteenth minute allowed Tyron Arendse to shoot for goal and his unstoppable shot left Moeneeb Josephs with no chance.

The ball was thrown long into the six-yard area, bounced off Nzudzo, and fell kindly for Arendse, who gave the People's Team the lead.

And it was 2-0 just four minutes later as Moloi was given onside after being put clear on the left. His run into the box was ended with a superbly-placed shot that once again left Josephs clutching at fresh air.

August went close to pulling one back for the Urban Warriors in the 25th minute as his turn and venomous shot flashed just wide.

Ajax had appeals for a penalty turned down just before the half-hour mark when Josep Ngake appeared to be brought down by Andre Arendse, but referee Petros Matebela waved play on.

The Urban Warriors were pressing forward more now and captain Robert Nauseb had a great chance to pull a goal back when he was put through one-on-one with goalkeeper Arendse, who did superbly to save his scuffed shot.

Arendse then made another world-class save was an Ajax corner as he dived low to his right to keep out the shot from Andile Sixaba.

Sixaba then almost put his side in further trouble at the other end as he laid the ball on a plate for Tyron Arendse, whose cross was cut out by Nzudzo for the corner.

It was almost 3-0 before the break as well as Josephs rushed out to clear the ball for a throw-in by the touchline. The throw was taken quickly by Santos but with the goal gaping, they failed to turn it home.

Ajax had a chance to create something late on in the first half but Dillon Sheppard fired his free-kick straight at the Santos wall and the score remained 2-0 at halftime.

Striker Nathan Paulse came on for defender Sixaba at the start of the second period to add some height to the Ajax frontline.

August had a chance to pull a goal back minutes into the second half after great strength in the box saw him get in front of the defence, but a Santos player managed to get a boot in and knock the ball for a corner.

Andre Arendse was counting his lucky stars soon afterwards as his mistake from an August shot allowed Paulse to shoot on goal, only for the ball to be cleared off the line by a retreating Santos defender.

Tyron Arendse was then replaced in the 57th minute by Jonathan Solomons as Santos looked to secure things in midfield in order to keep Ajax at bay.

Santos should have wrapped up the game after the hour-mark as Ithier picked up the ball on the halfway line and, with three-on-one, he decided to try and beat the defender himself instead of laying the ball off for Moloi. When he finally did, the striker was a good few yards offside.

The coach's son, striker Grant Igesund, replaced defender Nzudzo in the 73rd minute as Ajax went to broke with all-out attack.

Once again Santos had a magnificent chance to seal the game just minutes later as, when one-on-one with Josephs, Moloi skied his shot when it seemed easier to score.

The game began petering out in the final ten minutes as Ajax poured forward and Santos looked to hang back and catch them on the break.

Brent Carelse should have given Ajax a lifeline after being set up for a simple tap-in at the far post by Igesund, but he missed the ball completely.

But in the end it was the People's Team who were victorious, adding to the Premier Soccer league crown from last year, as well as the BP Top Eight from earlier this season.