Key clash tonight for Chilli Boys


Ajax also desperate to avoid relegation zone

AJAX Cape Town might have been in the top three for much of the season, but recent poor form has seen coach Roger de Sa suggest that they may shortly have to look nervously over their shoulders at Chippa United and the relegation scrap below them.

The Urban Warriors welcome another side in decline tonight when they host Chippa at the Cape Town Stadium, a game that could be crucial for both sides’ top-eight aspirations.

Ajax sit seven points above the relegation zone – so there are no panic stations yet – but with just two wins in their last 13 league matches, they are starting to show relegation form.

“If you ask me what my target is now, it’s to win all the games to the end of the season,” De Sa said. “We will continue trying to do that, but if we are being realistic, and looking at the club in the last few years, then just to have a season without worrying about relegation will also be good.

“It is a crucial game for us. It is one of those that if we win we stay comfortably in the top eight.

“If not . . . we worry about what is below us.”

A tough December that saw the side play six matches in a short space of time did not help the thin squad and De Sa says he feels the team are through their most difficult part of the campaign.

“Our toughest period was in December. To have six games in a matter of weeks . . . there were a lot of tired legs. But we now have a chance to recover and with 10 games to go we have a few [previously injured] guys coming back into the squad.”

Ajax’s form may be wretched, but Chippa have not fared much better and lost to third-tier Natal United in the Nedbank Cup at the weekend.

“We are both in pretty similar form if you look at our last few games, but if you talk about pressure on the coach [Ernst Middendorp], that is always there.”

Ajax have on paper much tougher tasks to come after tonight’s clash as well.

“It’s the round before we go away to Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United next week, so it will be good to get in a performance that will give us confidence for those games.”

Ajax are definitely without suspended Musa Lebusa, while Granwald Scott, Nazeer Allie, Lance Davids and Michael Kwong all miss out through injury.

Ajax are also assessing the fitness of Noah Sadaoui, Toriq Losper and Nathan Paulse.

The good news was a first appearance of the season for veteran defender Dominic Isaacs in the 9-1 Nedbank Cup win over Mainstay United on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Polokwane City coach Kosta Papic is hoping to get the one victory he needs to guarantee safety when his men take on Orlando Pirates in the Absa Premiership at Orlando Stadium tomorrow (6pm).

City, who were knocked out of the Nedbank Cup on Wednesday by SuperSport United, are in fifth place on 28 points in the league and one more victory would all but confirm their place in the top flight for next season.

Papic’s men are wounded after a 4-1 pounding by SuperSport United in a Nedbank Cup last 32 clash in midweek, but the former Bucs coach is confident they can bounce back.

But they need to improve in front of goal after wasting some good scoring chances against United.

“Definitely. In my opinion we need one victory or maybe two more points. I am sure that in the next 10 matches we can win one match. Then our job is done. Then the players will have freedom like never before. We do not have ambitions to finish number seven or eight. We just want to survive.”

Fourth-placed Pirates are still without top scorer Lehlohonolo Majoro, who is serving suspension after his red card against Platinum Stars a couple of weeks ago.

-Nick Said

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