Cape Town City continued their extraordinary dominance over neighbours Ajax Cape Town when they emerged as 2-0 winners of an entertaining Mother City derby at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Just 18 months into their existence as a PSL club, City have now beaten the well-established Ajax on three occasions (2-0 and 1-0 last season). The rivalry, though, has been good for football in the Cape, and the 17 000 or so who turned up at the former World Cup venue was double the crowd of last season.
The Cape derby is alive again and, on the back of the build-up this week, and the exciting on-field action on Saturday, no doubt it will go from strength to strength.
Ajax paid the price for a cautious opening 45 minutes. Truth be told, the Parow-based team came into the fixture with a rather negative attitude. Having lost both derbies last season, it was evident the message was clear: let’s not lose this one. It was this approach, however, that led to Ajax’s circumspection – and, needless to say, City took full advantage.
The Green Point-based team dominated proceedings in the opening 45 minutes, creating all sorts of problems in the Ajax defence. With the Ajax penalty box looking like a busy, crowded Cape Flats railway station at times, as City pressured their opponents, something had to give. And it did when new signing
Victor Obinna was picked out with a fine lofted pass from Ayanda Patosi, and the Nigerian striker demonstrated his touch and composure to net City’s opening goal. And, later, three minutes before full-time, substitute Judas Moseamedi nailed down the victory with a sweet finish.
With City coach Benni McCarthy having to bear in mind that there is an MTN8 final in two weeks’ time, he opted to leave in-form striker Lehlohonolo Majoro on the bench and start with Obinna. According to the City coach, Majoro is struggling with a knee injury and he thought it best to err on the side of caution.
Obinna, a former teammate of McCarthy at West Ham in England, did what was asked of him and was taken off at half-time, to be replaced by Moseamedi.
The other big call from McCarthy was to hand Factreton’s Craig Martin his first start. The 25-year-old was playing amateur football a short while ago, but he impressed the former Bafana Bafana striker during a trial period earlier in the season, which is why the player was signed – and Martin then produced a blinder when coming on as a substitute in City’s previous game against Polokwane City. In first derby at this level, the rookie showed no sign of nerves, put himself about with enthusiasm, and was desperately unlucky not to score early in the second half when flashed a header over the bar.
As for the loss of former City star Lebogang Manyama, who left to join Konyaspor in Turkey, there’s no need to fret. His replacement in the free role in the team, Patosi, is doing just fine. The kid from Khayelitsha, who returned home after six years in Belgium, was brilliant during the 65 minutes he was on the field. His enterprise, his passing and his free-kick ability were crucial to City’s continued derby superiority. McCarthy has said that both Obinna and Patosi are not yet fully tuned with regard to fitness – so, based on what they did with limited time on Saturday, imagine when they are fully fit and firing?
Just to prove City’s depth, Patosi was replaced by veteran Teko Modise – and, boy, can this 34-year-old still play? His touch, awareness and confidence on the ball are just a pleasure to watch.
As for Ajax, they lost the match in the first half. They tried to make things happen in the second period, when they had more possession, but, with City keeping things tight and compact, it was difficult to break down the opposition, especially with the excellent Robyn Johannes marshalling the defence.
Ajax will reflect on two opportunities: in the first half, Rodrick Kabwe’s wonderful free-kick was acrobatically tipped over by City goalkeeper Sage Stephens; and, in the second half, they should have got a penalty when Taariq Fielies brought down Tercious Malepe in the penalty box.
But, all in all, Ajax have only themselves to blame. City were rewarded for their desire, vibrancy, initiative and all-round composure. Ajax’s chastening third defeat to the noisy, upstart neighbours was the result of their unnecessary caution, an unwillingness to risk and, above all, a lack of self-possession, both as a team and as individuals, in the face of pressure.