Ajax, Sundowns kick off Nedbank Cup
Ajax Cape Town’s domestic woes will hopefully come to an end when they host a continuously improving Mamelodi Sundowns side at Cape Town Stadium on Friday evening for the Last 32 of the Nedbank Cup, kick-off at 8pm.
The Urban Warriors’ Absa Premiership campaign has left them somewhat in distress this season as they find themselves situated in the relegation zone - a position they simply cannot afford to be in.
They will be hoping that this knockout competition will prove to be the perfect distraction from their league troubles and possibly abet in turning over a new leaf, should they come out successful.
Their plight hasn’t been aided by the demanding schedule of back-to-back games every three to four days and the Ajax coach has confirmed that he will be throwing in some fresh legs.
“For the Nedbank Cup we are going to make some changes from the games we played previously,” confirms Jan Versleijen.
“That is for two reasons: reason one being we have played four games in nine days and I have to bring fresh legs into the team and reason two is that I also want to give an opportunity to the other players.
“When you play a cup game, it is not only a game for trying out new players but it can also be interesting,” he adds. “You always make your first game the most important. We will do everything to get a good result.”
“In general the playing style won’t change that much, but I want the midfielders to support Khenyeza more. We will not play with two strikers but we want more support and variation in our attacking game.”
It will be the first time the Dutch coach will come up against the Brazilians since he began his stint at Ikamva and he admits that he is unsure of whether or not he will give his fellow countryman Sander Westerveld a chance after handing Sean Roberts the No 1 jersey.
“Sundowns will probably also rest some players. From what I understand they have a very big dressing room and they have a lot of players who are waiting for a game,” adds the coach
“We have two experienced goalkeepers and I am still thinking about what I want to do for the Friday game.”
Like their counterparts, Sundowns have also had to endure a constant ebb and flow of fluctuating form, but since the turn of Pitso Mosimane’s reign at the club things seem to be on the rise.
“We have been struggling this year that is why we are there [in ninth place],” says the coach. “Ajax are also trying to get into the top eight; trying to avoid relegation but there are not too many points between us and the last placed team.
“It is a cup game and Ajax are a good team, they play well and they move well. I think against Platinum Stars, in my opinion, they played well but Stars scored the goals.
“You win the game by the goals; you don’t win the game by ball possession.”
Even though the trio of points still seems to be eluding the Cape club this year, they were offered a glimmer of hope when they fought hard against Bloemfontein Celtic to muster a point.
“Against Celtic they scored the goals, so there is something there. We have to be very careful, we are playing away.
“The good thing about us playing away is that we seem to be getting the results there lately. We will see.”