CAPE TOWN – To secure their PSL status, without having to negotiate a tricky play-off scenario, Ajax Cape Town have a simple equation: defeat Kaizer Chiefs on the final day of the season on May 12.
In short, if Ajax win, whatever happens elsewhere with the other beleaguered clubs won’t affect the situation; they will be safe.
To sketch the outline going into the final day of the PSL season, Platinum Stars, on 21 points, are already relegated to the National First Division (NFD). The team ending 15th has to negotiate an unpredictable play-off campaign against the NFD clubs finishing second and third to determine who gets a spot in the PSL next season.
Needless to say, it is this situation Ajax desperately wants to avoid.
Currently, Ajax are in the play-off position with 31 points (goal difference -5), and just above them are SuperSport United 33 points (-6), Polokwane City 33 points (-3) and Baroka 34 points (-5).
What it means is that Ajax have to beat Chiefs on May 12 - the win will take them on to 34 points. On the same day, SuperSport take on Baroka, and Polokwane host Chippa United. There are numerous outcomes, depending on the results - but, for Ajax, this is the solution: beat Chiefs.
Ajax goalkeeper Jody February celebrates his 22nd birthday on May 12, so there’s no need to ask what he wants for his special day. Despite the fact that Ajax have to face the popular Soweto club, a fixture that’s never easy, February was hoping for the best birthday present of all: victory and PSL survival.
“We simply have to beat Chiefs, we will be treating the game like a cup final,” said the young goalkeeper. “It’s my birthday, and it would be fantastic to celebrate my birthday with a win, and safety for the club.
“Every member of the squad knows what’s at stake. On Monday, we sat down with the technical staff and analysed our mistakes in the 3-1 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns at the weekend. We looked at what we did right, what we did wrong, and where we need to improve.”
“I’m sure that, as the days go by, we will be working hard on our game and our minds as the coaches prepare the game plan for Chiefs on my birthday.”
“The most important point, though, is that it is in our hands, we don’t have to depend on other results. Irrespective of what the other teams do, if we win, we are safe. The one thing I can tell you is that we don’t want to be in the play-offs; we know how tough that can be, that is why we are determined to go all out and beat Chiefs on the final day of the season.”
February and Brandon Petersen have been sharing goalkeeping duties for Ajax this season - but, in recent weeks, coach Muhsin Ertugral has made February his number one man. The keeper from Strandfontein hasn’t disappointed and has turned in some positive performances.
“The game against Sundowns was probably the busiest I’ve been in the last few games,” said February. “I made a few good saves and hopefully that was good for our goal difference. But it’s no use people saying I played well because we still lost the game.”
“But what has been most frustrating for us is that it always seems, because we are down on the log where we are, things just don’t fall for us. Luck is never on our side and the ball doesn’t roll our way.”
“The last few times we played Chiefs, it was the little things that let us down. We have to make sure we enter the game with no nerves, show the heart and character required, and just get the win.”