Pule holds key against Ajax
Pule holds key against Ajax

Posted in News on Nov 13, 2002.

The last time Ajax Cape Town and Kaizer Chiefs met in a cup semifinal was in the BP Top Eight two years ago, when the Urban Warriors proved far too strong for the Glamour Boys, winning 3-0.

The score-line might have been a bit of a surprise, but the result certainly was not as the team from the Mother City had proved to be Chiefs' jinx team on more than one occasion.

Ajax have won five of the seven encounters between the two teams and only once did Chiefs emerge victorious. If Anything, history favours the home side in Saturday's Coca-Cola Cup semifinal encounter at Newlands.

Just as much as Ajax has proven to be Chiefs' jinx side, the Amakhosi are very much a club that sides coached by the new man in charge at Ajax, Gordon Igesund, seem incapable of beating.

Igesund is undoubtedly one of the most successful South African coaches, having won three championship medals with three different clubs.

But Igesund has continuously struggled to beat Chiefs. Be it with Manning Rangers, Orlando Pirates or last season with Santos - no other club in the league seems to give his sides as much trouble as the Amakhosi.

Igesund however, is not unduly worried. "I do not really believe in those kind of statistics. Each match is played on a particular day and there are many factors that influence the outcome. The very fact that on the one hand history favours Ajax, but then on the other hand, history seems to favour Chiefs, shows how absurd these ideas are.

"We need to do the job on the day and not look at results of the past. If we have a good day and play to our capabilities, we can beat Chiefs and I am hoping we will do just that. We did not do well in our last league game against Pirates, but I do not need to motivate my players for Saturday's game. A cup semi-final is something special and I know my players will put in all the effort."

Chiefs go to Cape Town with plenty of their own problems. Their form in the league has been erratic and pressure on the coach, Muhsin Ertugral is immense, so much so that the coach will not be accompanying the team leaving the reigns to assistant coaches, Doctor Khumalo and Ace Khuse.

Football experts believe that much of Chiefs' hopes of repeating last season's Coca-Cola Cup triumph (they won the title by beating Cosmos 5-0 in the final) will rest on the shoulders of midfielder Jabu Pule.

Hellenic coach Neville Payne, whose side lost to Chiefs last week, says that the Bafana player who has returned to the Chiefs fold after a well-publicised drug rehabilitation programme, was sensational against his side.

"He was just different class and he's the one player who will pose a threat to Ajax on Saturday. He is a superb talent. He faded in the second half when the long lay-off from the game took its toll, but he is certain to get better with every game."

And that is probably just what Chiefs will need.

Fans have been warned to arrive early for the 3pm kickoff, as it is expected that a large crowd will turn out to watch this match, at which history is bound to repeat itself.

If Chiefs manage to overcome Ajax and qualify for the final, a repeat of last season's final could well be on the cards, as Cosmos, who finished runners-up last season start their semifinal clash against Rangers as favourites.

The venue for this game was finally settled and HM Pitje Stadium in Pretoria on Sunday at 3pm will host the event.

Coach Jomo Sono has once again unearthed a tremendous squad of talented players and Cosmos have shown good form this season. Last week they managed to come back from Durban with a 1-0 league victory against the Mighty Maulers under their belt.

For Rangers' coach, Clive Barker, the Coca-Cola Cup is very dear to his heart though, having been the first coach to lift the trophy back in 1992 when he led AmaZulu to an upset victory over Kaizer Chiefs in the final.

It was the start of greater things for the 'The Dog' and he later led Bafana to victory in the Nations Cup. He is now hoping for a repeat of that earlier triumph!

The Coca-Cola Cup final is scheduled for 30 November at a venue that will be determined by the Coca-Cola Cup Committee once the competing teams are known.

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