Ajax Cape Town have their promotion destiny in their own hands
JOHANNESBURG - Ajax Cape Town know that anything less than maximum points in their last two matches of the promotion/relegation playoffs might not be good enough to get them back into the elite league.
The Urban Warriors looked destined to automatically return to the Premiership next season as they sat at the summit of the GladAfrica Championship for the better part of the term.
But that proved to be a false dawn.
Swallows FC grabbed the ultimate triumph on the final day of the season as they defeated Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila 3-0 and automatically made their way back to the Premiership after more than six seasons in the wilderness.
But all is not lost for the Capetonians.
The Urban Warriors are in the playoffs, where they’ll be guaranteed promotion if they finish at the top of the standings after the four-match round robin mini-tournament.
So far, though, they’ve stuttered in their bid to grab the bull by the horns.
In their first game they needed to dig deep and sweat for a 3-2 win over TTM at Rand Stadium. Thereafter they went on to unceremoniously lose 1-0 to Black Leopards at FNB Stadium.
And with Leopards, who finished 15th in the elite league last season, in the driving seat after winning their first two matches, Ajax cannot afford to drop any more points.
Ajax return to the playoffs today (3pm kick-off) with a clash against TTM at Bidvest Stadium.
This is uncharted territory for Ajax compared to TTM, who were also in the play-offs last season. But the team from the Mother City have more to play for than their counterparts.
TTM are already guaranteed top-flight football next season after buying the status of Bidvest Wits.
For Calvin Marlin’s men there’ll be no back-door entry as they’ll have to succeed on the pitch. But with an experienced bunch of players at their disposal, Ajax still have what it takes to win the playoffs.
Eleazer Rodgers, Rooi Mahamutsa and Mohau Mokate are some of the senior players at Ajax who will need to guide the youngsters over the finish-line.
A large chunk of Ajax’s key players are on loan from teams in the Premiership and chances are that they might be eager to stay at a club where they’ll play week in and week out next season.
Captain Grant Margeman and defender Siphesihle Mkhize are on loan from Sundowns.
But even before the Brazilians completed a domestic treble, winning the Absa Premiership, Nedbank Cup and Telkom Knockout, they had already beefed up their squad with no fewer than nine experienced players.
So, with the chances of breaking in the Sundowns team looking slim ahead of the new season, Margeman and Mkhize will be hopeful of inspiring the Urban Warriors to the elite league, especially if they extend their stints at the club.