Teenagers spur Kaizer Chiefs to cup glory

Teenagers Mandla Masango and Knowledge Musona scored as Kaizer Chiefs claimed their first trophy of the South African season with a 2-1 win over Ajax Cape Town in the League Cup final Saturday.

Masango gave the Amakhosi [Chiefs] a 20th-minute lead at Absa Stadium in the Indian Ocean city of Durban and Zimbabwean Musona struck less than a minute into the second half against the title holders.  While Chiefs collected the 600,000-dollar first prize, Ajax had to settle for another runners-up prize this season having being humbled 6-0 by Golden Arrows in the season-opening Top 8 competition.

Chiefs are the most popular South African club, commanding vast and passionate support throughout a country that will host the 2010 World Cup during June and July. But silverware has been in short supply and the Johannesburg-based outfit finished third in the recently completed national championship behind Pretoria clubs SuperSport United and Mamelodi Sundowns.

The Chiefs succeeded under Serb coach Vladimir Vermezovic despite lacking two South Africa World Cup squad hopefuls, goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala. They and other squad members who returned from a month-long training camp in Brazil this week are barred from playing in the League Cup or the FA Cup, which kicks off Wednesday.

After surviving an early onslaught from a Cape Town side guided by Dutch coach Foppe de Haan, Chiefs took the lead after a careless pass from veteran Ajax striker Nathan Paulse. It was intercepted by Punch Masenamela, who sped down the left flank and when experienced goalkeeper Hans Vonk spilled the cross, Masango tapped the ball over the line.

After an increasingly pedestrian first half meandered to a close, Chiefs stuck a dagger into the heart of the title holders as Clayton Daniels failed to control a cross and Musona fired past Vonk. As torrential rain sent the predominantly Chiefs-supporting crowd scurrying for cover at the home of the Coastal Sharks Super 14 rugby union franchise, Ajax reduced the arrears five minutes from full-time.

Paulse partially atoned for his first-half blunder with a cross that Chiefs goalkeeper Arthur Bartman failed to cut out and substitute Diyo Sibisi struck from point blank range.

There was no doubting that Chiefs captain Jimmy Tau deserved to raise the trophy as apart from dominating the final, they overcame league top-five finishers Santos, Sundowns and arch rivals Orlando Pirates in earlier rounds.