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SWALLOWS NEWS
Swallows Hold Dutch Giants 16/01/05
Swallows twice came from behind to force a well-deserved 2-2 draw against Ajax Amsterdam in a Total Cup Challenge match on Sunday.

The result was enough for the Dutch champions, who beat sister club Ajax Cape Town 3-0 on Wednesday night, to claim the Total Cup.

Nicolae Mitea had given the visitors the lead after 29 minutes, only for Gary McNab to level the score for the hosts a minute before the break.

It took a special strike from McDonald Mukantsi to draw Swallows level for the second time after substitute Yaannis Anastasiou had restored the hosts' one-goal lead.

It was Swallows' second game in as many days after the Dube Birds' exertions during Saturday's 2-2 Castle Premier League draw against Black Leopards.

Coach Gavin Hunt resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes to his side, with the inclusion of Conrad Hendricks in place of first-choice goalkeeper Greg Etafia the only notable change.

Hunt's opposite number Ronald Koeman made several changes to the side that started for the 3-0 victory over Ajax Cape Town on Wednesday night, with Hans Vonk replacing Maarten Stekelenburg in goal, while Mauro Rosales and Mitea also came into the side.

Ajax's South African import Steven Piennar was ruled out of the clash with a minor knock and took the opportunity to watch the clash in the company of his mother.

The hosts did much of the early running and might have taken the lead as early as the sixth minute had Rosales done better after meeting a left-wing cross.

Ajax skipper on the day Johnny Heitinga then saw his grass-cutter narrowly miss the right post after Angelos Charisteas had laid the ball into the path of the Dutch international.

Hendricks then gathered Charisteas' point-blank header from Rafael van der Vaart's cross as the Dutch champions dominated the early exchanges.

Wesley Sneijder became the first player in referee Ace Ngcobo's book for a foul on Pitso Lekone, but Swallows failed to take advantage of the opportunity and were duly punished, when Ajax took the lead on 29 minutes.

A quick throw out by Vonk saw Mitea latch on to a delightful ball down through the middle. The 19-year-old raced from the half-way line, rounded off Hendricks, before slotting home despite the desperate efforts of Swallows' recovering defenders.

To their credit, Swallows never stopped trying, and it required a block by Julien Escude to deny Edzai Kasinauyo before the same defender thwarted Lekone with a last-ditch tackle in the area.

Swallows had their reward when Lungisani Ndlela was fouled on the edge of the box and McNab stepped forward to defeat Vonk with a low shot into the far post.

Ryan Babel replaced Charisteas for the start of the second half and almost made an instant impact for the visitors after latching on to Rosales' ball.

Swallows' riposte came in the way of Alfred Phiri's left-footed effort, which narrowly missed Vonk's left upright.

Lekone was next to go close when his effort narrowly cleared the bar after latching onto Ndlela's flick-on.

Ndlela was then denied by the upright on the hour mark after collecting an excellent cross from Kasinauyo before both sides made changes en masse as per pre-match agreement.

With both sides looking to break the deadlock, Sneijder's shot on 65 minutes lacked purchase and was easily fielded by Hendricks.

Ajax restored their advantage with 20 minutes to play when Hendricks flapped at a corner and missed, allowing substitute Anastasiou to hook home his side's second.

Mukantsi then dragged the hosts level for the second time in the game after 80 minutes with as good a goal as will be seen all season.

Emmanuelson lost possession on the right and Peter Rabolele offloaded to Mukantsi, who controlled the ball with his first touch and unleashed an unstoppable shot with his second.

Mukantsi might have won it for Swallows with two minutes left on the clock, but his shot from ten yards out rattled the crossbar as honours ended even.

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