CAPE TOWN - It’s a busy week for the Mother City’s two PSL clubs - Cape Town City and Ajax Cape Town - but, for both, the action unfortunately will unfold on the road. With all the controversy around venues for football in the Cape, both City and Ajax will play “home” games at away grounds this week.
While the unavailability of the Cape Town Stadium for Sevens rugby is understandable, it’s the manner in which other venues, like Athlone Stadium, have been allowed to deteriorate that is the problem now facing Cape football clubs. So, with no suitable ground for PSL football available in the region this week, City will "host" Maritzburg United at the Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban on Tuesday night (7.30pm), while Ajax will play their "home" match against Chippa United at the Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday night (8.15pm).
For City, as they prepare to face Maritzburg, head coach Benni McCarthy and his men will firstly have to put all their pitch issues behind them. They cannot afford to be mentally side-tracked by their ongoing venue problems. It looks like we are in for a closely-fought dash in the PSL title race - and, as it stands right now, City are still right in with a shot.
For McCarthy, there are two factors which allow him to feel confident going into what it could be a tricky encounter against Maritzburg: Nigerian striker Victor Obinna is back from injury, while star winger Aubrey Ngoma came off the bench in the team’s last fixture and is ready for action.
City have struggled up front, but the return of attacking duo Obinna and Ngoma should provide greater offensive thrust to the side. Ngoma, especially, after a lengthy injury, is vitally important to the Cape club. After playing off the bench in a 2-2 draw against Golden Arrows last month, McCarthy will probably feel more confident to throw the winger in from the start.
After Tuesday's Maritzburg clash, City then head for Nelspruit, where they will come up against former coach Eric Tinkler’s SuperSport United at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday afternoon (3.30pm).
Over at Ajax, before their “home” game in Johannesburg at the weekend, the Parow-based club take on Bidvest Wits in a PSL at the Bidvest Stadium on Wednesday (7.30pm). Ajax are in desperate need of points and consistency - and, for both the team and coach Stanley Menzo, there is little room for error. If the Capetonians don’t turn things around soon, then they are in for another embarrassing relegation skirmish; and, if Menzo doesn’t find solutions to the team’s woes quickly, then, as he’s already suggested, he’s likely to throw in the towel.
Wits come off yet another trophy success, having won the Telkom Knockout Cup at the weekend, which could, in theory, be to Ajax’s advantage; the Clever Boys will be in celebration mode and slightly distracted. But that could be a dangerous route for Ajax to take, in that Wits have fantastic depth and coach Gavin Hunt could make many changes and still send a competitive squad on to the field.
All in all, it’s a big week for the two Cape clubs. For City, it’s an opportunity to make their presence felt at the top of the PSL standings; for Ajax, it’s a chance to move away from the basement of the log.