Ajax welcome Maritzburg for first clash of 2018

Ajax welcome Maritzburg for first clash of 2018
Siyanda Xulu of Maritzburg United tries to defend Thabo Mosadi of Ajax Cape Town F.C. during the Absa Premiership 2017/18 game between Maritzburg United and Ajax Cape Town at Harry Gwala Stadium, Pietermaritzburg on 23 August 2017 © Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Friday Jan 05, 2018. 05:39

Ajax Cape Town and Maritzburg United will meet in one of the first Absa Premiership matches in the New Year, set for Cape Town Stadium on 5 January 2018, kick-off at 20h00.

Ajax ended 2017 on a low note as they suffered a 1-0 loss away to Kaizer Chiefs on December 16. It was the Soweto side’s first home win of the season, while it added to an abysmal away record for the Cape team, which has claimed just two points from eight matches on the road.

Fortunately the Urban Warriors have been much stronger at home, 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.

Maritzburg ended last year with a goalless stalemate away to provincial rivals Golden Arrows. The KwaZulu-Natal club had a mixed bag in the first half of the campaign and coach Fadlu Davids will want to see greater consistency for the remainder of the campaign.

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 on August 23, with Evans Rusike scoring a brace. 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.

Ajax’s line-up from their 1-0 loss to Chiefs on December 16: February, Kammies, Booysen, Nhlapo, Lebusa, Pietersen, Mdabuka (Sait 70'), Mzwakali (George 70'), Mosadi, Nemukondeni (Isaacs 90'), Morris.

Maritzburg’s line-up from their 0-0 draw with Arrows on December 17: Ofori, Wiedliech, Fransman, Onyango, Sanoka, Ndlovu, Makaringe, Maboe, Mokate (Van Wyk 71’), Mekoa (Shandu 72’), Rusike (Fileccia 90+2’).

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