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Football | Absa Premiership

Ajax, City geared for grudge match

Derby fever has reached boiling point ahead of the Cape Town Derby this Saturday evening, with Ajax Cape Town and Cape Town City to lock horns in a highly anticipated Absa Premiership clash at the Cape Town Stadium.

Kick-off is at 8:15pm.

The Mother City is split in half with blue and red the colours in demand as the high-flying Citizens aim to deepen the Urban Warriors relegation fears.

While the animosity between the two club CEO's is well known, the rivalry is a new one with the two teams to go head-to-head for only the second time.

Ajax have been the Cape's mainstay in the top division over the past 17 years, with the Urban Warriors having come up against various local rivals - most notably Santos who famously won the league in 2002.

But there is a new kid on the block, and John Comitis is eager to make an impact - and they have done so far.

Following a poor start to the season, Ajax roped in former Dutch international Stanley Menzo to help steady the ship. He achieved that objective towards the back end of last year, but will be a worried man heading into the Derby after his side suffered a 5-0 defeat away to Bidvest Wits on Tuesday evening.

The result plunged Ajax back into the relegation fight with the club lying in 11th spot on the log standings - six points off the foot of the table.

“As a coach, for me it is firstly and most importantly that we get the points we need, we are still in a position that is not good,” Menzo said. “Of course the Derby is a very nice moment, it is something special for the people. It is a three dimensional match.

“The log doesn’t lie and they are third on the log standings, that means that they [City] are the favourites, but it is a special game…a Derby. At the moment of the match we don’t look at the log.

“They have a good squad, some important players. The captain [Lebogang Manyama] who is carrying the team as a leader – a good squad, not easy to beat them. They can win games even in stoppage time."

In contrast, Eric Tinkler's troops couldn't have dreamed of a better run in their debut season. Not only did City claim success in the Telkom Knockout Cup, but they also head into this fixture in third place on the log standings, level on points with log-leaders SuperSport United.

City defeated Highlands Park 3-0 in their most recent encounter to move 10 points clear of their rivals.

“We can’t take this game against Ajax too lightly,” said Tinkler. “The harsh reality is that, in derbies such as these, form goes out of the window. While we may be going into the game with our morale high, and they lost heavily to Wits, we cannot under-estimate the opposition. If we do, we will come unstuck.

“Also, Ajax will be coming into this game highly motivated. They’ll have put the hammering behind them and they’ll see the fixture against us as an opportunity to redeem themselves. Make no mistake, we will have to work very hard to get a result," he concluded.

In head-to-head stats, Ajax and CTC have clashed in just one previous league match.

That encounter took place earlier this season and saw the Citizens claim a 1-0 home win thanks to a goal from Bhongolwethu Jayiya.


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