Port Elizabeth – Bongani Zungu scored the winner as Mamelodi Sundowns edged Ajax Cape Town 4-3 on penalties to claim the 2015 Nedbank Cup in dramatic fashion at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Abbubaker Mobara had a chance to win it for the Urban Warriors from the spot, but after the Ajax youngster missed, Thabo Nthethe drew the clubs level.
Franklin Cale then sent his attempt over the crossbar before Zungu stepped up to win it for the Brazilians, who ended the season on a high note.
The game was all square at 0-0 after 120 minutes of football.
Ajax were always going to be dangerous on the counter and proved that ‘Downs would have to be at their best in defence as Riyaad Norodien’s well timed pass sent Nathan Paulse through on goal with six minutes on the clock.
The lanky forward dribbled into the area before firing his left-footed effort across Denis Onyango’s goal.
The Urban Warriors looked the more dangerous in the opening exchanges, but the Chloorkop-based side were quick to find their rhythm and almost found the opener through an unlikely source in the 18th minute.
Usually restricted in his play, Asavela Mbekile was showing a different side to his pay, skinning one, two defenders before seeing Mobara’s timely intervention take the ball wide of goal.
Bongani Zungu then guided his header from a Teko Modise free-kick wide, before Hlompho Kekana sent his curling free-kick just over two minutes before the half-hour, capping off an exciting passage of play.
Chances were coming thick and fast and Nazeer Allie was at hand to deny what would’ve been a sure goal for Katlego Mashego in the 38th minute.
The Ajax fullback took the ball off Mashego’s laces just as the striker was about to take a shot with Anssi Jaakkola stranded.
The first-half ended much like it started, with Paulse sending a shot wide of goal as the teams headed for the tunnel at the break with the score deadlocked.
Sundowns were quick to test Jaakola following the interval, with Khama Billiat forcing the Finnish shot stopper into a smart save after being set-up by Mashego who then hit the rebound into the side netting.
Ajax assistant coach Ian Taylor was quick to play his cards and following break introducing the experienced duo of Cale and Erwin Isaacs before the hour.
Cale making an immediate impact with his cross-cum-shot skimming the roof of Onyango’s net.
Pitso Mosimane pulled off Modise to the surprise of many of the ‘Downs fans who filled the stadium. The man who replaced him, Anthony Laffor, would have an immediate impact, though, picking out Billiat with a pin-point cross, but the former Ajax winger sent his towering header over the crossbar in the 80th minute.
Both teams had their chances towards the end of regulation time, but neither was able to find the opener within the 90 and as a result the game went to extra-time.
‘Downs dominated most of the first period of extra-time, pegging Ajax deep in their own half.
Cale and Billiat came closest in the second-half of added time, but the game would ultimately be decided via the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
Onyango, Mbekile, Mphahlele, Schut (Nthethe 116′), Langerman, Kekana, Zungu, Modise (Laffor 79′), Mashaba, Billiat, Mashego (Malajila 62′)
Ajax Cape Town
Jaakkola; Allie, Mobara, Coetzee, Lebusa, Graham, Scott, Mzwakali (E. Isaacs 60′), Norodien (Cale 57′), Morris (Nkoana 70′), Paulse
Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images