ABSA Premiership

Cape Town City vs Ajax Cape Town | Saturday 20 January | Cape Town Stadium | 15:30

Cape Town City do battle with Ajax Cape Town in the second Cape Derby of the season. In terms of football in South Africa’s Western parts, it doesn’t get much bigger than the iKapa Derby. Since Cape Town City were formed as a club by John Comitis, they’ve dominated Cape Town, finishing above their neighbours, while they’re also yet to taste defeat against the Urban Warriors. On paper, not much separate the two sides, however, the points suggest that Cape Town City are in a title race, while Ajax are in a relegation battle. This has become one of the biggest derbies in the country, and that simply means that form should be thrown out the window!

To win
Cape Town City 8/10
Draw 23/10
Ajax Cape Town 33/10

Cape Town City

Cape Town City’s impressive three-game winning streak ended as they fell to their sixth defeat of the campaign, going down 1-0 to Free State Stars. Benni McCarthy’s Citizens will be hopeful of returning to winning ways against their local rivals, who they are yet to lose to.

City certainly have the squad to bounce back. However, in terms of the title race, I fear that they may have sold too many of their star players to challenge in the long run. Last season, City’s attack consisted of Lebogang Manyama, Aubrey Ngoma, Bhongolethu Jayiya and Lehlohonolo Majoro. Halfway through the 2017/18 campaign and not one of the abovementioned attackers are still at the club.

They’ve acquired the services of Kwanda Mngonyama, Masoud Juma and Bradley ‘Surprise’ Ralani, all of whom are yet to make an impact at the club just yet. While the new players settle into life in Cape Town, McCarthy’s men still have plenty of talent on showcase.

From defence to attack, City have been excellent. I’m not entirely convinced in goalkeeper, Sage Stephens, however, the back four provide plenty of cover. Thamsanqa Mkhize has been brilliant in the right-back position, while Robyn Johannes, despite signing a pre-contract agreement with Bidvest Wits, has been decent next to Taariq Fielies, while Edmilson Dove and Ebrahim Seedat continue to share that left-back position.

In this league, you need a great spine in the team, and Cape Town City have exactly that. Roland Putsche and Thabo Nodada, who recently signed a new contract with the club, anchor the midfield, giving the likes of Lyle Lakay, Craig Martin and Ayanda Patosi the freedom to roam.

Up front, Victor Obinna is likely to start, a player who has already found the back of the net against Ajax this season. The 30-year old forward will definitely cause problems to an Urban Warriors defence that has leaked plenty of goals this season.

Ajax Cape Town

As a neutral, you just have to love Ajax Cape Town. They have a young team that play an exciting brand of football. With coach Muhsin Ertugral now at the helm, things can only get better for the Urban Warriors.

Last weekend, Ajax ended their three-match losing run with an emphatic 3-1 win over Platinum Stars. Despite their poor run of form, the performances have been decent for Ertugral’s side. The Turkish boss only stood on the touchline for the first time in Ajax’s match against Sundowns, due to a delay in sorting out his work permit, while Tendai Ndoro only made his debut in that 3-1 win over Dikwena for the same reasons.

For Ajax, this is a must-win game. It’s a matter of climbing up the table, while also restoring some pride in the Cape, shutting their noisy neighbours up – something they’ve never been able to do.

On their day, Ajax are capable of getting a result against any team in the league. And despite his comments on the quality of football in South Africa, Ertugral is certainly one of the top coaches in the country.

Their squad has definitely improved from last season. I’ve always been a fan of Jody February, but Brandon Petersen has won me over in recent weeks and deservedly starts in goal for the Ikamva-based side.

Sirgio Kammies and club-captain, Mosa Lebusa, are two exciting full-backs that offer Ajax plenty going forward, as well as in defence. Siboniso Gaxa is currently training with the team, but with Kammies in the form he’s in, he’d most likely keep Gaxa out for a little while longer.

One negative part of Ajax’s game that you can criticise is their centre-back pairing. Mario Booysen and Isaac Nhlapo have been shaky all season. Both players are capable of producing great displays on their day, but for me, they are nowhere near the level of Rivaldo Coetzee.

In attack, Ertugral’s men are frightening. He’s got Ndoro to work with, who is almost guaranteed goals under his tutelage, while the likes of Samuel Julies, Tashreeq Morris and Fagrie Lakay have license to roam and cause plenty of problems to the opposing back four.

The Urban Warriors are seeking to add more firepower to their attack, with the signing of Yannick Zakri expected to be announced this week. With the pacey Ivorian joining the squad, it’s fair to make the statement that Ajax have one of the best attacking forces in the league.

Probable line-ups:

Cape Town City: 4-2-3-1
Stephens; Mkhize, Johannes, Fielies, Edmilson; Putsche, Nodada; Lakay, Martin, Patosi; Obinna

Ajax Cape Town: 4-2-3-1
Petersen; Kammies, Booysen, Nhlapo, Lebusa; Malepe, Takwara; Morris, Julies, Lakay; Ndoro.

Prediction: Ajax Cape Town (33/10)
As mentioned before, Ajax Cape Town will be looking for their first iKapa Derby win. This is the best chance they have and I’m expecting a win for the Urban Warriors. Cape Town City haven’t looked entirely convincing since the break and I can’t see them handling the skill of Lakay and Morris. The price is definitely enticing on Ajax and I’ll certainly be backing them in this weekend’s blockbuster.

Jesse Nagel

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