Urban Warriors have slipped to third-bottom as disastrous season continuesAjax Cape Town are feeling the heat ahead of their derby fixture with city rivals Chippa United at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday night.
The Urban Warriors find themselves third bottom in the League, a point behind newly-promoted Chippa and without a win in five games.
It is a far cry from the heady days of the 2012/11 season when Ajax finished second to Orlando Pirates in the Absa Premiership, missing out on a historic first-ever championship on the final day of the season.
But the loss of top stars to bigger clubs both abroad and in South Africa means they have had to rebuild and rely more on young players who lack PSL experience.
Coach Jan Pruijn has steadied the ship since taking over from Maarten Stekelenburg last month, collecting five points from their last five matches, but he knows they need to start winning if they are going to pull away from the relegation zone.
“We had a good draw in midweek against BidVest Wits but we know we must start to win games now. We are more confident than we were before, but we must now show this confidence in picking up three points on Friday.
“It won’t be easy, Chippa United are better under Farouk Abrahams, they have four points from their last two games, so you have to say they are in good form.”
Indeed, Abrahams appears to have turned around the fortunes of the side, who are now unbeaten in this three matches in charge since he became their fifth coach this season.
“It’s a pleasure to coach a squad like this, they came out fighting. We have made it our mantra to play without a fear of losing,” he said after the 2-1 win over Platinum Stars on Tuesday.
“We have shown that we are capable of beating anyone and that’s a great scenario for any coach.”
Abrahams added his side should be graceful in victory, which has lifted them to a high of 12th place in the standings with 10 points from 11 games.
The former soccer journalist, who was Bafana Bafana’s goalkeeper coach at the 2002 World Cup under Jomo Sono, has made drastic changes to the playing style of the club, who used to sit back and counter attack under Sikhakhane.
Now, after making several changes in key positions, they are more expansive. “I’ve insisted on a high tempo of play and you could see we were fatigued in the second half [against Stars]. But then we got a second wind and won the game.
“I’ve also worked on getting a strength and depth in the squad. I want substitutes to come on and make an impact and that we managed. We’ve got 22 players fighting for 11 places,” he added.
Ajax will be without striker Bradley Grobler for the Derby clash through injury, while Koen van der Laak and Nhlanhla Shabalala are also missing with knocks. Veteran defender Matthew Booth is out suspended.
|DID YOU KNOW|
- This will be the first-ever meeting between these two sides.
Chippa United were only formed in 2009 and have had back-to-back promotions from the third-tier to the Premier League.
- Chippa won promotion to the top-flight by beating another Cape Town club, Santos, in the promotion/relegation play-offs last season.
- Ajax have just four wins in their last 26 matches in all competitions, dating back to last season.