Ajax CT, Maritzburg eye perfect start to New Year

Ajax Cape Town and Maritzburg United will renew their rivalry in the Absa Premiership when they lock horns at Cape Town Stadium on Friday evening, in the first round of matches of the New Year.

Kick-off is at 8pm CAT, live on SS4 and streaming on DStv Now.

The Urban Warriors ended 2017 in 15th place on the log standings, having lost 1-0 to Kaizer Chiefs in mid-December. It was the Soweto side’s first home win of the season, while it added to an abysmal away record for the Cape team, who have accumulated but two points on their travels this season.

Ajax Cape Town boast a much better record on home soil, claiming 11 points from six matches. Their last turn as hosts saw them defeat Chippa United 1-0 in December - though the match was actually held at the Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg; due to a lack of suitable venues in the drought-hit Western Cape region.

The Team of Choice held Golden Arrows to a goalless stalemate away in their final game of last year to sit in ninth place on the log standings at the close of the year.

The Team of Choice has claimed 10 points from eight away matches this season. Their last three games on the road produced a draw (0-0 at Polokwane City), a win (4-2 against Cape Town City) and a loss (0-1 against Mamelodi Sundowns).

In head-to-head stats, Maritzburg and Ajax have met in 23 league matches since 2005-06. The Team of Choice has claimed 10 wins compared to seven for the Urban Warriors, while six matches have been drawn. The Cape side has claimed five wins from 11 home league matches in the rivalry, suffering just one defeat in the process.

When the teams met earlier this season, Maritzburg claimed a 2-0 home win, with Evans Rusike bagging a brace for the KwaZulu Natal club. It was a fourth successive win for the Team of Choice over the Urban Warriors, who have claimed just one victory in the teams’ last eight meetings.

Maritzburg United claimed a 2-1 win in the corresponding fixture last season.

Predicted Starting 11:

Ajax Cape Town: Petersen; Kammies, Pietersen, Nhlapo, Lebusa, Malepe, Mzwakali, Mosadi, Phohlongo, Morris, Ndoro.

Maritzburg United: Ofori; Thlone, Fransman, Onyango, Sanoka, Ndlovu, Makaringe, Maboe, Mokate, Mekoa, Rusike.

Head-to-Head Statistics:


Season Result Scorers
2012/13 Maritzburg 1-1 Ajax Smeekes; Khenyeza
2013/14 Ajax 3-1 Maritzburg Rodgers, Manyama 2; Buckley
2013/14 Maritzburg 2-0 Ajax Jayiya, Morton (pen)
2014/15 Ajax 0-0 Maritzburg
2014/15 Maritzburg 1-0 Ajax Mokate
2015/16 Ajax 3-1 Maritzburg Nxumalo 2, Paulse; Teyise
2015/16 Maritzburg 1-0 Ajax Mkhize
2016/17 Ajax 1-2 Maritzburg Mayambela; Maboe, Mekoa
2016/17 Maritzburg 2-1 Ajax Fileccia, Onyango; Funga
2017/18 Maritzburg 2-0 Ajax Rusike 2

LEAGUE RECORD (since 2005/06)


Ajax 11 5 5 1 18 10
Maritzburg 12 9 1 2 18 8


Ajax 12 2 1 9 8 18
Maritzburg 11 1 5 5 10 18


Ajax 23 7 6 10 26 28
Maritzburg 23 10 6 7 28 26

What They Said:

Ajax Cape Town head coach Muhsin Ertugral: “There is a lot of work to do, if you look at the situation we find ourselves in on the log standings...we have to move up,” said Ertugral in his first official press conference back at Ikamva.

“There is a lot of talent in the team. Ajax Cape Town is an important component on the South African soccer scene and this league needs a strong Ajax Cape Town.

“Maritzburg want to play positive football, that gives me a little bit of hope that they will have no reason to sit back. It is always better to play a team like that, they have done something good that side, but I think they have weaknesses we can capitalize on.”

Maritzburg United head coach Fadlu Davids: “Of course we want to get into the top eight‚ that’s no secret‚” said Davids.

“We have got the youngest squad that Maritzburg United has ever had‚ we’ve brought the average age down to 23. We have the smallest squad we’ve ever had - 23 players with eight Diski players included in that 23‚ plus four goalkeepers.

“So we are lucky that we have multi-functional players that are able to play in different positions. I think this young squad has done so well this season. With these players’ capabilities‚ although they are young‚ we can achieve."

Key Players:

Ajax Cape Town

Tendai Ndoro: The Zimbabwe international’s arrival along with Muhsin Ertugral’s appointment comes as a major boost to the Urban Warriors who will be hoping that the former Orlando Pirates man receives his work permit in time for this weekend’s clash. The forward brings much needed fire power to Ikamva and if he fires - Ajax Cape Town could make huge strides up the log standings.

Tercious Malepe: A return from injury for the utility defender comes as a huge boost to Ajax Cape Town with his drive from the back a massive shot in the arm to their cause. He will be hoping to kick on from where he left off as the Urban Warriors eye a change in fortune.

Maritzburg United

Evans Rusike: The Team of Choice forward bagged a double in their latest clash against Ajax Cape Town and will be eyeing another as the KZN club aim to add to Ajax Cape Town’s woes. Key to their cause, Rusike often scores in patches and Maritzburg will be hoping that he kicks off 2018 with a bang.

Deolin Mekoa: The Maritzburg United speedster enjoyed a fruitful visit in this fixture last season and will be eager to continue his good run of form. A key creative component, the Team of Choice will rely on him to add the necessary spark and flair down the wings.