JOHANNESBURG –This really lived up to its ho-hum billing, a clash between two struggling sides battling to move up the Absa Premiership table.
And you could see why Bidvest Wits and Ajax Cape Town both can’t buy a game this season after playing to a 0-0 stalemate on Wednesday night.
Bidvest Wits, the hosts, came into this game on the back of a fulfilling weekend following their Telkom Knockout triumph over Bloemfontein Celtic to clinch yet another cup just several months after being crowned Premier League champions.
Blame the cold wet weather, the drenched pitch or the cup hangover – whatever – it’s going to take some doing for them to start clawing their way up the table.
Ditto visitors Ajax, who have won just one of their last seven league fixtures, making them slightly better than Wits two places above the foot of the table, where the Clever Boys have camped out for a few weeks now.
Both Darren Keet, the Wits goalkeeper, and his counterpart Jody February for Ajax must have been freezing old such was their inactivity.
Perhaps credit should also go to the defenders in this match, who coped well with the slippery pitch not be caught off guard when under siege from the opposition.
The Clever Boys back four in particular is now getting more game time together, having not been fit at the same time when the season began.
That partly contributed to the poor start from the champions.
It’s upfront where there is a clear goal drought. Egyptian Amr Gamal has misplaced his scoring boots despite adjusting like duck to water in their earlier rounds of the Premier League following his arrival from Al Ahly in August.
When called on to try convert the best chance of the game in the 74th minute, Gamal completely missed the target when his sliding foot connected with a perfect cross from right back Reeve Frosler. It looked a sure goal, but somehow seconds later Wits had not broken the deadlock.
Gamal hasn’t scored a league goal for his club since September 16 – but his place in the team has not really been under threat with James Keene and Eleazer Rodgers still working their way to full fitness.
Ajax on the other hand continue to struggle because they don’t see to have a good squad overall this season, and coach Stanley Menzo has chopped and changed at will.
Here, they did put up a fight against Wits, but then again both sides were involved in a match that could easily be described as an antidote for insomnia than anything else.
The jury is still out on when the champions can officially be considered to be in a relegation scrap having now collected 10 points from 12 games.
But Ajax, with the same number of points and games played, are perhaps realistically bracing themselves for a relegation dogfight in the second half of the season. And a coaching shake up doesn’t seem like it would help improve their results either.
They face second-placed Chippa United in a “home away from home” clash here at Bidvest Stadium on Saturday night.