A goal from Rodney Ramagalela gave the home side Ajax Cape Town an early exit from the Nedbank Cup challenge, Sundowns won by one goal at the Athlone Stadium on Friday evening.
The Urban Warriors had made five changes from their previous domestic league encounter with The Brazilians. Also, Ajax came into this Nedbank Cup match with their new head coach Roger de Sa who would have added substantial value into the changes and strategy for this cup challenge.
The stadium was filled with an exuberant Ajax crowd, the Urban Warriors supporters seemed confident in their side as they looked to avenge their previous league defeat to the Brazilians. The opening quarter saw Ajax moving the ball around patiently, and confidently holding onto possession at the back as they moved into the attacking third. However, while opportunities were limited, the Cape side were carelessly losing the ball in the final third.
The visitors looked more threatening as Liberian striker Anthony Laffor was clinical for The Brazilians. The striker was involved in almost every attack or goalscoring opportunity from as early as in the second minute, when he’s shot was saved by shot stopper Brandon Petersen.
Sundowns had to make an early substitution in the fifth minute, bringing on Rodney Ramagalela for Katlego Mashego due to an injury. The visitors pressed high up and looked to find an early opening goal while the Urban Warriors came with a more defensive approach, utilizing only one striker as Toriq Losper had to drop deep.
Ajax only managed their first shot at goal in the 16th minute through Keagan Dolly from a set piece. The Urban Warriors settled in and grew with confidence as they moved forward, playing some sweet one two interchangeable play.
Sundowns midfielders Teko Modise and Khama Billiat were sensational for the visitors, as they produced quality balls for their attackers and not shy of firing phenomenal long range shots themselves. Attacker Laffor had played a versatile free role for the Brazilians as he was seen at times dropping extremely deep behind the midfielders Modise and Billiat. In the 27th minute Modise came close to finding the opener from 30 yards out, but his effort got tipped over the crossbar by Petersen. Minutes later it was Billiat with a long range effort of his own, whilst his shot whistled inches over the woodwork.
Ajax new head coach Roger de Sa brought on Tashreeq Morris and Eleazar Rodgers into the attack in the second period. Though it was early substitute Ramagalela who opened up the scoring for Sundowns in the 63rd minute with a stunning long range effort. Rodgers almost pulled one back to level the score ten minutes later, when his shot from inside the area went wide.
Ajax had picked up the tempo as they look to find the equalizer, while Sundowns never sat back and continued to press high up, creating numerous opportunities. As the match went into injury time, a frustrated captain Dominic Isaacs got shown a red card.
However, it was the tactical offensive approach by Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane that proved to be the wiser on the evening.