Promotion carrot comes into view as Ajax face their day of reckoning
A big playoff win over Black Leopards on Friday could all but guarantee Ajax Cape Town a return to the Premiership‚ but Urban Warriors coach Calvin Marlin has cautioned that the first objective is the three points by any margin.
For Leopards‚ a win in the second-last promotion/relegation playoff match at Rand Stadium would seal 2019-20’s 15th-positioned Premiership team’s place remaining in the top-flight with a game to spare.
A draw would leave Leopards needing to win by any margin or draw against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila FC (TTM) at FNB Stadium on Monday.
Ajax‚ the GladAfrica Championship’s runners-up who led for most of the season but were pipped to the post on the final day by Swallows FC‚ bounced back into serious contention for promotion with a 5-1 thrashing of TTM on Tuesday.
Ajax have six points from three matches and the big win gave the Warriors a +4 goal difference. Leopards have six points from two games and +3.
If Ajax beat Lidoda Duvha by a single-goal margin they will leave Leopards needing a win by three goals in the final playoff fixture on Monday against TTM at FNB Stadium.
But‚ given how porous TTM have been conceding three big playoff defeats – allowing in 11 goals and scoring three – Ajax might hope to put a few goals past Leopards‚ if they manage a win at all.
Marlin said the Cape side’s first target must be the three points.
“Yeah‚ big game on Friday. A must-win for us – we’ve got to get the positive result‚” the former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper said.
“I’m not going to say how many goals we need. But I think if we just start with the win we’ll put the pressure on Leopards to get a big win in the last game.”
Ajax had blown a seven-point lead over Swallows in the bio-bubble‚ with scoring a big problem for the Cape team.
Veteran 35-year-old Eleazar Rodgers’s six strikes in five games‚ including a hat-trick against TTM on Tuesday‚ have spurred Ajax to find their form in front of goal‚ and they have eight goals from their three playoff games.
Leopards’ six points have come from a 3-1 win against TTM and 1-0 victory against Ajax.
Should Leopards and Ajax complete the playoffs after Monday’s fixture level on points and goal difference‚ the number of goals scored is the deciding factor‚ which at present favours the Cape side (Ajax have scored eight and Leopards four).
Promotion/relegation playoffs remaining fixtures -
Ajax Cape Town v Black Leopards (Rand Stadium‚ 3pm)
Black Leopards v Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (FNB Stadium‚ 3pm)