City faced with tricky Maritzburg test


After edging Ajax Cape Town 2-1 at the Cape Town Stadium at the weekend, they are looking to finish off their mini-tour of the Cape with yet another victory when they take on Cape Town City in an Absa Premiership fixture at Athlone Stadium Tuesday night (7.30pm) .

Maritzburg have a reputation for being party-poopers when it comes to Cape clubs. The most famous occasion, of course, was back in 2011 when they held Ajax 2-2 on the final day of the season, when just a win was needed for the Capetonians to win the title.

Tuesday, albeit on a smaller scale, the Team of Choice again have an opportunity to spoil things for a Cape side. If City beat the KZN club, they will go top of the league standings - but, rest assured, it won’t be that simple. Having already seen off Ajax, Maritzburg are determined to leave the Mother City with a full complement of six points.

The big challenge for City Tuesday night, if they are to triumph and rocket to the summit of the log, is in whether they will manage to break down Maritzburg’s magnificent defensive organisation. The KZN side showed against Ajax that they don’t mind playing without the ball. Statistically, they had only 20 percent of the possession, but they still won. And, boy, do they work hard, off the ball. They were aggressive in closing opponents down, their shape and structure were excellent and, they were highly efficient on the break.

No doubt, as City prepare for Tuesday’s encounter, the same game plan will be in operation.

The Cape club’s coach, Eric Tinkler, most certainly has his work cut out in formulating a strategy to prise open Maritzburg's tightly-knit defensive formation.

The problem for Tinkler is that City’s best outings this campaign have often come through a similar approach as Maritzburg - City, too, are just as happy to play on the counter, especially with the pace and enterprise they have up front in Lebogang Manyama, Aubrey Ngoma, Bongolethu Jayiya and Judas Moseamedi.

All in all, Tuesday’s fixture between City and Maritzburg will certainly make for fascinating viewing, if only to ascertain what tactics the two coaches employ.

Tinkler has this season proven he is one of the PSL’s rising stars on the coaching front, having taken a new club, with a brand new vision and a new squad of players, to great heights. To win Tuesday, and top the log, would most definitely be the cherry on the top for the City coach at this stage of the season.

“It was important to get a result against Chippa, and it was a good one,” said Tinkler. “Now we’ve got another tough one ahead of us, especially as Maritzburg come off a win over Ajax. They will be highly confident - and, as I’ve said many times before, there are no easy games in the PSL.

“We are at a new stadium (Athlone), but that shouldn’t really affect us. We just have to go there and get another positive result against a competitive Maritzburg team.”

Over on the other side of Mother City, though, things are looking rather bleak for Ajax. They face Platinum Stars in Rustenburg Tuesday (7.30pm) and the struggling Cape side is again in the spotlight - for all the wrong reasons. Mired at the basement of the table, with just three points from nine games, and still to win this season, the pressure is on.

Every fixture, every week, the team fails to win just turns the screw that bit tighter.

New coach Stanley Menzo has had two games in charge - a 1-1 draw with Free State Stars and Saturday’s last-gasp 2-1 loss to Maritzburg. The general feeling, though, is that the team has shown some improvement, especially with regard to there being a lot more fluidity and confidence in possession.

But Ajax are still cannot kill off the opposition. And the biggest problem is when the team loses the ball, in that they are not quick and sharp enough to get back into defensive shape. They continue to make schoolboy errors, which allow opposing teams to net soft goals.

Tuesday, in Rustenburg, Ajax are in for yet another tough assignment. Their opponents, Platinum, have also not had the best of times this season - and they will be keen to register the win, to rain even more misery on the parade of the luckless Capetonians.

The Star

Original source: City faced with tricky Maritzburg test