CAPE TOWN – The build-up and big talk are at an end, the jibes have been absorbed and the hype is over – now to get this much-anticipated Mother City derby between Ajax Cape Town and Cape Town City at the Cape Town Stadium under way today (3pm).
Football is played between the four white lines on the football field, not in promotion, marketing gimmicks, radio, newspapers or social media.
When the players run out today, all that has gone before means nothing – it is XI v XI, with three Premiership points on offer. Who wants it more?
Last season City won both derbies, but it won’t be as easy this time around. Ajax will be better prepared – physically, mentally and tactically.
The presence of Cape legend Benni McCarthy, the City coach, will add extra interest to the fixture – and, no doubt, with the animosity between the owners (City’s John Comitis and Ari Efstathiou of Ajax), there is more than just football at stake.
The Mother City is in for a really special occasion today, and all it asks is that the two teams play their part in creating the entertaining spectacle we are all salivating for.
There are many factors that will determine who emerges victorious in today’s derby, but we’ve isolated a few areas where we believe the game could be won or lost…
AJAX CAPE TOWN
Having returned to Ajax as part of the deal that took Rivaldo Coetzee to Mamelodi Sundowns, Booysen has quickly settled in.
Not only has he stamped his presence as a top-class defender, he’s also brought leadership and personality to the team.
With City’s pace and movement in attack, where Lehlohonolo Majoro is in fine fettle, Booysen will have to be on his toes to ensure the opposition striker doesn’t get too many openings.
The Ajax approach is heavily reliant on wing play. In Mosadi they have a speedy, tricky footballer, who, on his day, can take apart any defence.
The problem, though, is Mosadi’s consistency, or lack of it – one game, he’s brilliant; the next, he’s anonymous.
If Ajax are to emerge victorious from the Cape derby, then the winger is going to have to be at his best. And if he does bring his A-game, then City better watch out.
The midfield boss-lad from Bonteheuwel is one of the PSL’s brightest talents. Margeman, though, has played a lot of football over the last 12 months –including the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea in May-June this year – and Ajax coach Stanley Menzo has been vocal in declaring the need to manage the teenager’s game time.
Last week, Margeman came off the bench against Baroka FC – but today in a derby in which victory is paramount, no doubt Menzo will unleash the creative youngster to cause havoc in the City defence.
CAPE TOWN CITY
City’s new Bafana Bafana recruit Mkhize could be in for a busy afternoon today. He’s been one of the Cape club’s most consistent players, but he’s likely to be assailed by Ajax’s wing-play.
City are very strong through the centre of the field, which means the neighbours from Parow are going to go wide to try to break them down.
As such, Mkhize will have to show why Stuart Baxter picked him for Bafana’s upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso.
Nodada was recovering from a long-term injury last season, which is why he didn’t see too much game time under Eric Tinkler.
But back fit and firing this season, new coach McCarthy has really taken to the industrious, committed Nodada.
A central midfielder who covers every blade of grass and gives his all for the team, the dynamic, diligent Nodada is expected to be influential for City today.
The loss of last season’s hero Lebogang Manyama has placed the creative onus on Patosi. With Manyama having signed for Konyaspor in Turkey, Patosi has been handed the free role so critical to the way City play.
Khayelitsha’s Patosi, who this season returned home after six years in Belgium, is still struggling with match fitness.
He is getting better with every game, though. And, if there’s an occasion to announce his undoubted pedigree and to trumpet his presence in the PSL, then surely the Cape derby is it!