Ajax, Arrows renew rivalry in opening round

Ajax, Arrows renew rivalry in opening round
Edgar Manaka of Polokwane City challenged by Nathan Paulse of Ajax Cape Town during the Absa Premiership 2016/17 match between Polokwane City and Ajax Cape Town at Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane South Africa on 18 February 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Thursday Aug 17, 2017. 08:21

Ajax Cape Town and Golden Arrows will renew their rivalry in the opening round of the 2017/18 Absa Premiership at Cape Town Stadium on 19 August 2017, kick-off at 20h15.

Ajax had a roller coaster ride of a season last term, as they finished 10th on the log and missed out on the top half of the table for a second successive time. They parted ways with coach Roger de Sa and replaced him with Stanley Menzo, who will have his first season in charge of the Urban Warriors.

The Cape side has made some significant changes in their playing personnel, with the likes of Nathan Paulse and Mark Mayambela departing, but the signings of Sedwyn George and Isaac Nhlapo point to a bright future.

Arrows had a more consistent campaign in 2016/17 and were rewarded with an eight-place finish, seeing them return to the MTN8 for the first time since they famously won the competition (by beating Ajax in the final) way back in 2009.

Abafana Bes’thende have been relatively quiet on the transfer front during the offseason and coach Clinton Larsen will hope their consistency and the added experience his predominantly young squad has gained will serve them well in the new campaign.

In head-to-head terms, Ajax and Arrows have clashed in 32 league matches since 2000/01. The Urban Warriors have generally enjoyed the upper hand in the rivalry, claiming 12 wins compared to seven for the Durban side.

The Urban Warriors have a strong home record against Abafana Bes’thende, with eight wins, seven draws and just one loss from 16 turns as host. Last season the Cape side took four points off their Durban counterparts, winning 1-0 in the ‘Mother City’ before playing out a 1-1 draw in the return game.

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