Late Morris strike takes Ajax into final


It looked like SuperSport were on their way to victory as they were leading 1-0 with five minute to go. But Ajax never gave up and they fought back courageously to secure a place in the final, where they will meet either Cape neighbours Vasco da Gama or Mamelodi Sundowns, who meet in today’s second semi-final.

A frenzied start to the match resulted in some end-to-end action and a few harsh tackles. SuperSport skipper Clayton Daniels was yellow-carded in the opening few minutes for a two-footed lunge on striker Nathan Paulse.

For Ajax, there was some neat passing moves, with Bantu Mzwakali making intelligent runs from deep to get in behind the SuperSport defence. On one such occasion, his cross provided a chance for Nazeer Allie, but the Ajax right-back stabbed his shot high and wide.

At the other end, the team from Pretoria threatened from a free-kick floated in, but Ajax goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola was at hand to punch clear to deny Daniels. Jaakkola was again called into action when Kingston Nkhatha set up Jeremie Brockie, but the Finnish keeper saved bravely at the feet of the New Zealand striker.

In keeping with the attacking mood of a flowing Cup tie, Paulse then found himself clean though on goal, but SuperSport keeper Ronwen Williams was equal to the task to deny the big Cape forward.

As things settled down after a frantic opening, it was evident that both teams had done their home work. SuperSport battled to take advantage of the lack of height in the Ajax central defence, with the Capetonians successful in shutting down the supply line to the opposition forwards. And Ajax struggled to get their creative sparks, Erwin Isaacs and Riyaad Norodien, into the game because SuperSport never allowed them much space within which to manoeuvre.

But a moment of magic from SuperSport schemer David Mathebula in the 38th minute then broke the deadlock. Mathebula sliced through the Ajax midfield to thread a magnificent pass to put Thuso Phala in the clear. Phala skipped through and steered the ball beyond Jaakkola to put the Pretoria club into the lead.

Ajax came out in the second half with renewed energy, desperate to get back on level terms. The stormed forward, especially allowing left-back Mosa Lebusa to get forward more in a bid to have an extra body in attack. But, with nothing happening, coach Roger de Sa had no choice but to change things. Captain and defensive midfielder Travis Graham was sacrificed as the Capetonians opted for a more offensive approach, bringing on striker Tashreeq Morris to add greater impetus up front.

De Sa then quickly made another swop, with Keagan Dolly coming on for Mzwakali. It was time to go for broke, the Cape side had to try something to break down the defensive resolve of SuperSport.

With 18 minutes to go, and Ajax still searching for some inspiration, De Sa brought on Franklin Cale for Norodien - it was clearly the Capetonians' last throw of the dice.

And it was Cale who provided the pass for the equaliser in the 85th minute. Morris dashed down the right flank and played in Cale. Initially it looked like the veteran winger had squandered the chance with a poor first touch, but his persistence and strength on the ball allowed him to find Lebusa, who gleefully steered the ball into the net.

And the comeback was complete three minutes into injury time when Allie whipped in a cross and Morris headed in to take Ajax into the final.

Original source: Late Morris strike takes Ajax into final