Cape Town City's Craig Martin challenged by Samuel Julies of Ajax Cape Town during the derby. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Cape Town City continued their extraordinary superiority over Ajax Cape Town when they dispatched of their arch-rivals and close neighbours 1-0 at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

In four games between the two teams, Ajax are yet to win a game.

It was a well-deserved victory for City as they were, by far, the more enterprising and more efficient in going about their business. Even though Ajax played the whole second half with 10-men, it's important to note that, even in the first half when the opposition had a full complement of players, City were still dominant.

The Cape derby attracted about 15 000 yesterday, but City boss John Comitis was vocal about his disappointment. Computicket went off offline on Saturday morning, forcing the club to open two kiosks outside the stadium, but by then many fans would perhaps have changed their minds.

"It's something that's outside our control," said Comitis. "We still got a decent crowd in and we just need to continue to build the derby."

As for the on-field action, the point to remember is that discipline is such an integral part of football and yet it was precisely in this aspect that Ajax let themselves down, both individually and tactically. Not only did they make a host of gratuitous fouls, but Zimbabwean midfielder Gerald Takawara marred his team's chances by having himself unnecessarily red-carded shortly before half-time. Having just been booked for a foul on Teko Modise, Ajax's new strong man foolishly pulled back Victor Obinna a few minutes later. The referee had no choice but to book the player again, and direct him to head for an early shower.

In addition, tactically, Ajax often fell short of the high standards expected by new coach, Muhsin Ertugral. They were regularly dragged out of the shape, they failed to track their runners and the amount of times City's Thabo Nodada caught them out with a deep run from midfield was staggering. In short, Ajax just never learnt from their mistakes, and City kept exploiting their naivety.

After a rather subdued opening to the derby, City kicked into gear and grabbed the initiative. It was particularly their impressive pressing that had the Ajax defence in trouble.

For the Citizens, there were two great chances when Craig Martin hit the upright and Nodada was foiled by an excellent, close-in smother stop from goalkeeper Brandon Petersen.

Ajax, though, can feel hard done by, though, as the refereee spoilt their best opportunity. New striker Tendai Ndoro was fouled by Taariq Fielies, but instead of playing advantage when the Zimbabwean regained possession and was clean through on goal, he called the players back for the free-kick.

With City already dominant in the opening 45 minutes, and still being handed the advantage of an extra man in the second, it was a no-brainer that a goal would arrive. And it duly did to Martin, whose electrifying pace on the right flank had caused chaos in the Ajax defence all day.

With Martin steaming forward with energy, Nodada's relentless drive, Teko Modise's smooth control of the game from midfield and the combative aggression of Fielies in central defence, City were just so much more superior to their neighbours.

City kept piling on the pressure in the second half, with Ajax having to defend for their lives. Victor Obinna could have increased the score when latching onto a cross from substitute Lyle Lakay, but he headed agonisingly wide.

With Martin struggling with injury, City coach Benni McCarthy replaced the promising winger with new signing Kwanda Mngonyama, allowing the defender to come on for his debut for the Cape club. In his eagerness, though, he entered the field too early and was booked before coming on. McCarthy blew his top and was sent off by the referee for leaving his technical area. What would a Cape derby be without a moment of controversy?

Lakay then had an opportunity in the closing stages, from a cleverly-worked free-kick routine, but he struck the upright.


IOL Sport

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