Ajax may well topple Chiefs

Amakhosi starting to feel the pressure, says De Sa

AJAX Cape Town feel tomorrow’s opponents Kaizer Chiefs are not as sharp as they were at the beginning of the season and could be ripe for the picking when the two clubs meet in the Premier Soccer League at Soccer City.

“I don’t think Kaizer Chiefs are top of their game right now. Maybe it’s a good time to play them,” coach Roger de Sa told a pre-match press conference in Cape Town yesterday.

“They are distracted by the African Champions League and in the league it is crunch time for them.

“Then they also have the derby against Orlando Pirates at the weekend and I know, having been involved in the derby before, that the players will have an eye on Saturday’s game.

“They can’t help it with the massive hype up in Gauteng before the derby. That might be a good thing for us, too. Chiefs might rest a few players before the derby also, so a few things might go our way,” he said.

De Sa also feels uncertainty over the goalkeeper position at Chiefs, and the loss of Kingstone Nkhatha in attack might make Chiefs less clinical than they were at the beginning of the season. “They don’t have the biggest squad and so there must be a bit of fatigue. They are not as good as they were.”

Ajax travel to Johannesburg today for the match with a 19-man squad and will stay up for Saturday’s match against SuperSport United in Polokwane in what will be a six-day trip.

Defender Aiden Jenniker faces a late fitness test on a twisted ankle while Dominic Isaacs and Nathan Paulse are set for more game time after recent injur y.

Meanwhile, former African champions Raja Casablanca were confirmed as Chiefs’ opponents in the next round of the African Champions League as they consider taking the first leg of the second round tie to Durban.

Raja clinched a 6-2 aggregate triumph over Diables Noirs of Congo in Brazzaville late on Sunday to set up a high-profile clash in the coming weeks.

Chiefs host the first leg against Raja on Saturday, March 14, and are considering taking the game to the Moses Mabhida Stadium after consistently poor crowds at Soccer City.

A decision will be made this week by Chiefs’ management, officials said.

The second leg is in Casablanca on the first weekend in April.

Raja were comfortably set after winning 4-0 in the first leg against the Congolese and completed the business away at the weekend.

The Moroccan club, coached by the Portuguese Jose Romao, were 1-0 ahead at half-time and doubled their lead early in the second half, extending in the process their aggregate lead to 6-0, only for Diables Noirs to score two goals inside a minute near the end to force a draw.

Raja were the first winners of the new format Champions League in 1997, beating Orlando Pirates home and away in the group phase along the way. They also won the Champions League again in 1999.

-Mark Gleeson