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Football | Absa Premiership

Kjell Jonevret © Backpagepix

Pirates and Ajax in top-eight battle

Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town will go head-to-head for a place in the Absa Premiership top eight when they clash horns at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Kick-off is at 7:30pm.

The Buccaneers' poor run of form continued as they were held to a goalless draw by Bloemfontein Celtic last time out - the result stretching their winless run in the league to three games with the Soweto side in serious danger of finishing outside the top half of the table.

Three points in what is their final home game of the season, though, could spark a late charge up the log standings with a clash against Golden Arrows to follow on the final day of the season.

Kjell Jonevret admits his side might be guilty of thinking of their upcoming Nedbank Cup semifinal fixture against the KwaZulu-Natal outfit, but also underlined the importance of their clash against the Urban Warriors.

“Maybe our focus is a little on the cup‚ even if we are not talking about it‚" Jonevret said.

"But for me the attention is on the next game against Ajax and we really have to win our last two league games.The supporters are all talking about the Nedbank Cup and whenever I’m stopped that is what they want to know about.

"But it is important to try and win our last two games in the league‚” he concluded.

Ajax Cape Town head coach Stanley Menzo eased all the pressure off his troops' shoulders by highlighting that the onus will be on the Buccaneers to come at them in midweek.

The Urban Warriors, three points clear of their opponents, know a draw will favour them, but victory could well go a long way in sealing their place in the MTN8 for next season - a task that seemed highly unlikely just a few weeks back.

The Cape side recorded a third win in succession by defeating Bloemfontein Celtic 2-0 at Athlone Stadium.

"I think so yes, but more a cup final for them than than for us," said Menzo. "They have to win, but yes we are going there to keep hold of our place in the top eight.

"We are playing away from home, but it will be up to them to come at us and we will see what they will do. We will try and do our own thing.

Menzo continued: "A fourth and fifth win in a row would also be nice, sometimes you need some luck. The belief is there, the energy is there. Every time you look for new challenges, yes we were safe heading into this game - but four in a row would be nice.

"Looking for challenges, looking for things to motivate the team, that is what you look for as a coach."

The head-to-head stats make for good reading if you are an Orlando Pirates fan:

Ajax and Pirates have met in 35 league matches since 1999/2000.

The Buccaneers have claimed 20 wins compared to six for the Urban Warriors, while nine matches have been drawn.

Pirates have won 13 of their 17 home league matches against Ajax, suffering just two defeats in the process.

When the team met earlier this season, the Buccaneers claimed a 2-1 win in Cape Town.

Ajax have not beaten Pirates in the league since the second half of the 2010/11 season.


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