Ajax Cape Town head coach Stanly Menzo was realistic in his assessment of this past weekend’s 1-1 draw against Kaizer Chiefs, with the Urban Warriors having to settle for a point having taken the lead in a thrilling clash at Athlone Stadium.
The Urban Warriors headed into Saturday evening’s game in desperate search of all three points, but coming up against a confident Amakhosi side – who entered the clash on a five game winning run – was never going to be easy.
Nathan Paulse handed the Urban Warriors the lead soon after the break, nodding home Thabo Mosadi’s pin-point cross. Bantu Mzwakali rattled the woodwork soon after before Chiefs eventually leveled matters through Daniel Cardoso.
“When you play away from home it is always good to get a point because that is the experience that I had today – that we played away from home and not at home,” said Menzo in the aftermath.
“I think if you play Kaizer Chiefs, who are top of the log, if you say before the game that you can have a draw, you will sign of it. Watching the game, the first chance was ours, but then they hit the post through [Siphiwe] Tshabalala.
Menzo continued: “The first-half we played the way we wanted to play, maybe it was the wind, we couldn’t press high because they play very well between the lines – we changed that a bit in the second half. Maybe because of that they started to play better.
“In the first-half I think we did well, created two chances – an opportunity. Second-half they started to really play, they have a great team, but out out of that we created chances by playing on the counter or on transition. We got some good chances, opportunities.
Menzo was delighted with the quality of goal scored by Paulse with the former Dutch international further explaining how they nullified the threat posed by Glamour Boys’ talisman Willard Katsande.
“It was a perfect goal, a perfect cross and good header by Nathan. At that moment I think – if you look at the chances – we deserved to take the lead, but from that moment they started to get the free-kicks in and we couldn’t kill the game with our counter-attacks. It is a pity to concede like that,” Menzo added.
“A point against one of the leaders, yes [I am satisfied].
“We had to make the spaces ‘tight’ – [Willard] Katsande was always the one that was dropping between the Chiefs centre-backs, for me that is fine – he can stay there. In their half it was Nathan [Paulse] that shadowed him, but as soon as he came into our half is was Bantu [Mzwakali] on him.
“But you could see as soon as we started to press high ‘Shabba’ would take over in the middle and their number 23 [Joseph Molangoane] started to play between the lines and they ‘killed’ us a bit.
“We had to keep it compact and tight.”
Moreover, Menzo wasn’t ready to blame his team for the set-piece goal converted by Cardoso in the 79th minute. The Urban Warrios head coach simply stating that you can’t combat all of Chiefs’ qualities.
“You see it regularly so that is the quality of their team, you can’t stop all their qualities and you can’t stop all the free-kicks. I can’t stop them playing the ball into the area, we have to react yes and cover better, but that is the quality of Chiefs.
“Disappointed that he got a free header, it is difficult. Maybe we should have marked tighter, it is not easy,” Menzo concluded.