Ajax’s Jaakkola holds out Black Aces

An inspired display by Anssi Jaakkola saw Ajax Cape Town hold Mpumalanga Black Aces to a 0-0 draw in an Absa Premiership match at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

It was a rather dull affair for a majority of the occasion, but Aces’ late flurry of attacks saw the new import deny the home side a victory.

You couldn’t have found two more identical teams coming into the game, with Ajax only having conceded more goals than Aces which left them one position below on the log.

The pressure was on Ajax Cape Town to make sure they didn’t fall victim to complacency after their win against Kaizer Chiefs in the midweek, and their goalkeeper, Anssi Jaakkola, was called into action following Thabo Qalinge’s overhead kick.

Aces were already appealing for a penalty in the 12th minute when the ball struck the shoulder of Mosa Lebusa inside the box, but the referee adjudged it to be unintentional.

Ritus Krjauklis was guilty of failing to clear a looping long ball over the top and it fell to Mabhuti Khenyeza, who offered Aces’ most threatening shot on target nine minutes later. The former Ajax man struck a half-volley on the turn and it forced Jaakkola to drop low and make the save.

Just before the half hour, Legobang Manyama cut back for Keagan Dolly but his shot was blocked by Abel Mabaso in front of the goal.

There were worrying moments at the end of the half when Telinho went to ground after suffering a blow to his neck in a challenge. As a result, the Mozambican import was stretchered off and replaced by last week’s goal-hero, Tasriq Morris.

The delay caused a lengthy period of stoppage time and it allowed for Onyekachi Okonkwo to fire a powerful ball at goal which the Finnish ‘keeper punched away.

A second change was made by Ajax at the restart: Cole Alexander coming on in place of the disappointing Lebogang Manyama.

The best chance of the game fell to Khenyeza in the 52nd minute when he was unleashed on goal by a defence-splitting ball. He, however, failed to hit it on his first touch, allowing the the Ajax backline to close him down.

Three minutes later Jaakkola fisted away Okonkwo’s strike from outside the box, before Clifford Ngobeni forced the goalkeeper to tip his stinging shot over the angular of the bar on the hour mark. Just another impressive save the Finn could add to his tally.

Lebusa was living dangerously when his arm brought down the substitute Dennis Masina in the six-yard area, however, nothing was given.

Later on, Jaakkola denied a series of dangerous attacks by Aces to help Ajax keep their fourth consecutive clean sheet as the game finished goalless.

Mpumalanga Black Aces 0

Ajax Cape Town 0

Black Aces: Nhlapo, Mabaso, Nato, Mwanjale, Hendricks, Zwane, Ngobeni, Ngalo, Qalinge (Mulenga 84’), Okonkwo (Masina 68’), Khenyeza

Ajax Cape Town: Jaakkola, Lebusa, Isaacs, Krjauklis, Jenniker, Mobara, Telinho (Morris 47’), Losper, Rodgers, Manyama (Alexander 46’), Dolly (Paulse 63’)