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Football | Absa Premiership

Ajax, Downs battle for redemption



Ajax Cape Town and Mamelodi Sundowns will both be desperate to return to winning form in the Absa Premiership when they take to the field at Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday.

Kick-off is at 7:30pm CAT, catch the action live on SS4HD and live streaming on DStv Now.

The two clubs currently find themselves at opposite ends of the league table with victory for either to be a timely boost to their respective cause.

The Urban Warriors suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Maritzburg United in their opening game of the year. Fagrie Lakay found the back of the net after six minutes, but the Team of Choice battled back to leave the Mother City with all three points.

A second successive loss leaves the Cape Town side, who have managed just one victory in their last seven league outings, marooned in the relegation zone.

Muhsin Ertugral’s troops have performed adequately at home so far this season, with 11 points from seven matches. Prior to losing at home to Maritzburg on the weekend, Ajax had claimed seven points from their previous three turns as hosts.

Sundowns head into the midweek clash on the back of a surprise 3-2 loss away to Polokwane City over the past weekend. The Tshwane side also took the lead in their game thanks to an early strike from George Lebese, but ended up suffering their first away defeat of the 2017-18 season - it was also Rise and Shine’s first home win of the campaign.

The Brazilians had been unbeaten on the road until their trip to the Limpopo province, but a haul of 19 points from eight away games this season is still an outstanding record. Yet Pitso Mosimane will still be very keen to see his side snap a two-game losing streak.

In head-to-head stats, Ajax Cape Town and Sundowns have met in 36 league matches since the 1999-2000 season. The Brazilians have claimed 14 wins compared to 11 for the Urban Warriors, while 11 matches have been drawn. The Cape side has won seven of 18 home league matches in the rivalry, suffering five defeats in the process.

When the teams locked horns last season, Ajax claimed a 2-0 home in the first half of the campaign, but ‘Downs claimed revenge with a victory by the same margin in the return fixture. The Urban Warriors are unbeaten in their last five home matches against the Brazilians.

Predicted Starting 11

Ajax Cape Town: Petersen; Lebusa, Nhlapo, Pietersen, Kammies - Malepe, Kabwe, Losper - Mosadi, Morris, Lakay.

Mamelodi Sundowns: Onyango, Langerman, Madisha, Nascimento, Ngcongca - Manyisa, Kekana, Mabunda - Lebese, T. Zwane, Tau.

Head-to-Head Statistics:

LAST 10 LEAGUE RESULTS

Season Result Scorers
2012/13 Ajax 0-0 Sundowns
2012/13 Sundowns 3-1 Ajax Rodgers, Manqele, Kekana (pen); Khenyeza
2013/14 Ajax 2-2 Sundowns Dolly, Manyama; Zungu, Malajila
2013/14 Sundowns 3-2 Ajax Nthethe, Mashego (pen), Laffor; Paulse (pen), Davids (pen)
2014/15 Ajax 1-0 Sundowns Graham
2014/15 Sundowns 2-1 Ajax Schut, Modise; Morris
2015/16 Sundowns 3-2 Ajax Modise, Lolo (og), Laffor; Mzwakali, Paulse (pen)
2015/16 Ajax 0-0 Sundowns
2016/17 Ajax 2-0 Sundowns Mosadi, Mdabuka
2016/17 Sundowns 2-0 Ajax Tau, T. Zwane

LEAGUE RECORD (since 1999/2000)

Home
P W D L GF GA

Ajax 18 7 6 5 17 17
Sundowns 18 9 5 4 35 24

Away
P W D L GF GA

Ajax 18 4 5 9 24 35
Sundowns 18 5 6 7 17 17

Total
P W D L GF GA

Ajax 36 11 11 14 41 52
Sundowns 36 14 11 11 52 41

What They Said:

Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Pitso Mosimane “This is a funny season,” Mosimane said. “I have been around for many years but I have never seen anything like this. We have lost many games (five in 15 matches in the Absa Premiership) and that’s unlike us.

"Since I have been at Sundowns I don’t remember us losing six or seven league matches in a season, yet this was our fifth loss and we are only at the halfway mark. But it’s not about how many matches you win or lose. It’s about what’s going to happen at the end of the season.

"Hopefully we will stay on top. But we need to play to remain on top, and when I say play to remain on top I am not saying we don’t have a game plan I am saying that we need to be mentally stronger. But sometimes defeats like this[against Polokwane] are a wake-up call. Let’s see. Maybe they will respond better against Ajax Cape Town. That’s when you see the character of the team.”

Ajax Cape Town assistant coach Calvin Marlin

“Believe in the tactics...every player is up and motivated to play against Sundowns, but is is important that we believe in the game plan, stick to the instructions,” said Marlin.

“We always knew it was going to be tough to turn things around. Scoring a goal within six minutes against Maritzburg United was probably the worst thing that could have happened to be honest because then we went into our shell. Old habits crept back into the team.

“Besides the goal, the movement, the work rate was good and the guys are working hard. If you are unsure of your role it naturally brings tension, if you play with confidence the case is different. That little bit of doubt costs you and that needs to change.”

Key Players:

Ajax Cape Town

Mosa Lebusa: The Urban Warriors skipper has been the club’s best player this season and his teammates will continue to count on him as they aim to resurrect their campaign. His quality in defence and in attack is vital to the club’s cause with his leadership now in the spotlight as Ajax Cape Town aim to upset the Brazilians once more.

Tashreeq Morris: The burly forward is the club’s top scorer this season, with his physicality and ability to hold up possession a huge part of the club’s style of play. Following the arrival of Tendai Ndoro, Ertugral will be hoping that the Zimbabwean can strike up a partnership with Morris as they aim to claw themselves out of the relegation zone.

Mamelodi Sundowns

Hlompho Kekana: The Brazilians captain is integral to the Tshwane club’s cause with his drive from midfield a key component to their style of play. The box-to-box midfielder not only breaks down opposition attacks, but also provides great impetus going forward with his shot from range well known in soccer circles. Coming up against a struggling Urban Warriors, Kekana could well run the show in the Mother City.

Percy Tau: The lively attacker has been the demise of many a defender this season with his skill and pace a nightmare for any fullback or centre back in the league. Tau will be licking his lips as he sets his sight on a leaky Urban Warriors defence - if he fires, Ajax Cape Town could be in for a long night.



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