CAPE TOWN – The most intriguing characteristic of this captivating rivalry between Cape Town City and Ajax Cape Town is that there is always something to talk about. In short, the competitiveness between the two clubs is never uneventful; things are always fresh and interesting.
Because of this, when the Cape derby rolls around, the appeal of the fixture stays uppermost in the minds of the country’s football followers - and it will be no different when City and Ajax square up in a PSL clash at the Cape Town Stadium today (kick-off 3.30pm).
Already there has been so much to discuss and enthuse over: Ajax are yet to win a derby match since the arrival of City as a top-flight club; the feud between the two club bosses; new Ajax coach Muhsin Ertugral’s past connection to today’s opposition; City coach Benni McCarthy’s growing stature as a tactician; and the host of new players introduced to both teams. It certainly has the potential for a really entertaining, exciting occasion.
To add to the debate and analysis around today’s Cape derby, there is an on-field match-up that could well enthral the 20000 expected to turn up. City captain Robyn Johannes, is in his final few months at the club, having already penned a pre-contract to join Bidvest Wits next season. But the experienced defender is determined to make sure that he leaves on a high note, and that he is fondly remembered for his services to the club.
Today, though, Johannes faces a searching test when he comes up against Ajax new man, Tendai Ndoro. The Zimbabwean striker, who came to prominence during a goal-rich spell at Orlando Pirates and subsequently left to play in Saudi Arabia, has been lured back by Ertugral.
Ndoro made an immediate impact by scoring on his Ajax debut in a 3-1 win over Platinum Stars last week. The clash between Johannes and Ndoro should be worth the entry free alone.
“Ajax have a new coach, so we will have to bring our A game,” said Johannes. “This will probably be our hardest derby test. With Muhsin around, Ajax have a better structure and they also have a lot of new players. But we are not focused too much on what they do, we are only concerned with the job that we have to do.
“We are expecting a difficult match, but, as we always do, we want to keep Cape Town blue. Our last game (a 1-0 loss to Free State Stars) was not what we wanted, but we have the bounce-back factor, and I’m expecting an exciting match.”
Ndoro, who has been involved in the Soweto derby on a few occasions, is looking forward to his first appearance in the Cape derby.
“I’m not just happy to be back playing again, but happy to be able to play good football,” said Ndoro. “We are motivated, it’s a derby and I’m looking forward to it.
“We are only focused on victory and we are confident that the rest will follow. Everyone is positive of a good result. It’s great to be playing a derby in South Africa again. This time, it will be Ajax for the victory.”
As for Johannes’ decision to sign for Wits, he said it would have no effect on his commitment and dedication when putting on a City jersey.
“This will be my last derby,” said the City captain. “The chairman (club boss John Comitis) understands my decision. He knows that I still remain fully committed to the club until I leave. In a derby, it’s not just about the two teams, it’s about the fans, the family and the friends who are at the ground. It’s my last one, and I want to make it a special derby.
“There are a few reasons for leaving. I respect everybody at City and, right now, I don’t want to focus on anything but the job I have to do for the club. And nothing will make me happier than winning the league with the team this season.”