CAPE TOWN - It's yet another massive week for Ajax Cape Town as they continue their quest to steer the club to PSL safety.
Still mired second-from-bottom on the league standings, and with the three games to go, this is the time; there is no second chance.
Do well this week and there remains a glimmer of hope, which they can take into the final fixture of the season; fail this week and it’s all over - it’ll be either relegation or they’ll have to negotiate a tricky playoff campaign.
First up for Ajax will be a home fixture against Baroka FC at Athlone Stadium on Tuesday night (7.30pm kickoff) - and then, on Saturday, they have the daunting task of trying to upset the in-form title-favourites Mamelodi Sundowns in Atteridgeville.
Having picked up four points in their last two games, there is, though, a mood of optimism.
Coach Muhsin Ertugral has introduced an effective counter-attack style of play. The players have responded by performing with commitment, while, in attack, the pace of Yannick Zakri and Fagrie Lakay has troubled opposition defences.
With Ajax’s approach of hitting the opposition on the break relying heavily on the presence of Zakri and Lakay, Ertugral now has to deal with the fact that Lakay is out for Tuesday's Baroka clash, serving a one-match ban for picking up four bookings.
“Fagrie (Lakay) is not playing because of yellow cards,” said the Urban Warriors coach. “We play counter football and he is huge in that element, so we need to find a player that is similar to him.”
The likely candidate to fill Lakay’s boots up front is Tashreeq Morris - he has a bustling style of play that has the potential to unsettle defenders.
While Ajax are fighting for their PSL status at the bottom, neighbours Cape Town City this week have an opportunity to finish well and secure a top-four log position in coach Benni McCarthy’s debut season.
City are away to Polokwane City on Wednesday (7.30pm kickoff) and, on Saturday, they are home to Orlando Pirates at Cape Town Stadium.
McCarthy said he wasn’t taking anything for granted against Polokwane and added that he was preparing for a highly-competitive outing against Pirates.
“The last three games are really tough (Polokwane, Pirates and AmaZulu),” said the City coach.
“If you look at Polokwane, they are desperate for points because they don’t want to be dragged into the relegation situation. It’s an away game for us and, with all the travelling to get to Polokwane, it makes it a really difficult encounter.
“As for Pirates on Saturday, there is no need for motivation. We beat them last time and we just have to prove that it wasn’t a fluke.
“If we turn up, we will make a game of it. But if we think we are already on holiday, then things could go pear-shaped.
“Overall, we have been playing well, unfortunately results haven’t gone our way.
“But I still have ambitions of finishing in the top four - we just have to work hard as a team and treat each of these last three fixtures like Cup finals.”