Ajax, Pirates set for royal battle

Comment on this story
iol spt feb18 Pirates-Ajax Independent Newspapers Ajax Cape Town and Orlando Pirates expect a battle royale when they meet in an Absa Premiership match at Athlone Stadium. Picture :Neil Baynes

Granwald Scott’s injury woes have been the scourge of his career over the last three seasons, but the combative Ajax Cape Town midfielder refuses to buckle.

He won’t let the pain and frustration hamper his contribution to the team.

Scott is a footballer who relishes a challenge – and, tonight, he certainly has a contest to savour when Ajax Cape Town host Orlando Pirates at Athlone Stadium (kick-off 7.30pm).

It’s a PSL fixture that pits two sides struggling for consistency against each other. Both, it would seem, have forgotten how to win games.

Ajax have won only once in their last five outings, while Pirates lost their last two – against Mamelodi Sundowns and Polokwane City.

Both are desperate to get back on track. Both need a win, not only to placate their long-suffering followers, but also to get some much-needed confidence in the squad.

Because of injury, Scott hasn’t been too regular a starter this season. Much like former Tottenham Hotspur captain Ledley King, Scott doesn’t train all that much before games as the effort takes its toll on his injuries.

Last weekend, after Sundowns made a sudden U-turn and barred Ajax loan signing Thamsanqa Sangweni from playing against them, Scott was hastily called into the starting team. He acquitted himself well for 80 minutes before being substituted.

There’s no doubt that the 26-year-old’s aggressive presence makes a major difference to the Ajax squad. But he admits his team can expect a torrid outing tonight.

“Pirates are a quality squad,” said Scott. “Even though they are going through a bad patch, having lost their last two games, they will be coming here to win. They have to get their game back on track.

“I think after Pirates lost all those cup finals, their confidence took a bit of a knock. Also, they have played a lot of games because of the Champions League, and now they are playing catch-up in the league, players are starting to tire.

“They’ve lost a coach, and they have shuffled things around now. I expect they will be hungry for victory when they come to Cape Town.”

Despite all this, Scott is still positive that Ajax can pull it off tonight.

“We’re not a team that worries too much about the opposition,” he said. “As players, we always focus on ourselves and what we can do. Even in our squad, we don’t even worry too much coaching coaches, we just get on with the job. We want to be winners and, to do that, a player has to only concern himself with his own game and how he can assist his teammates.

“It’s good that the match is at Athlone Stadium, which is a bit of a graveyard for teams from up north. While I prefer playing at Cape Town Stadium because it’s wider and smoother, the wind factor at Athlone gives us a bit of an advantage.”

Meanwhile, Pirates will still be under the caretaker eye of assistant-coach Eric Tinkler when they take on Ajax.

The Buccaneers last week appointed Vladimir Vermezovic as their new head coach, but the Serbian is still waiting for his work permit before he can officially take up his post.

Former Bafana Bafana midfielder Tinkler has seen Pirates lose their last two games – against Sundowns and Polokwane City – and he’s expecting another tough outing in Cape Town.

He is, however, looking to change things around a bit.

“We could have avoided the loss in Polokwane had our players converted the chances we created,” Tinkler told the Pirates website.

“It was a tough match, but I think we could have gotten a result. Losing the match in the manner we did is a bit sad, but we have to keep playing and try to win the next match

“Going to Ajax will be a tougher task. The team does not have a great record away to them but, in football, history counts for very little. We will change our approach and I am confident we will get something out of that match.” - The Star



sign up
 
 

Comment Guidelines



  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.