Another stadium spectacle

2011-01-14 00:00

A CAPE Town double header at the city’s magnificent World Cup semi-final stadium in Green Point opened the Premier Soccer League season in rousing fashion, and tonight’s sequel promises to be even more of a blockbuster.

The headline attraction is the late game between title chasers Ajax Cape Town and Kaizer Chiefs.

It’s a fixture that has everything. Not only are both sides still very much in the championship race, but meetings between the two cultured, carpet-playing Cape and Gauteng teams are often aesthetically pleasing occasions.

This season Chiefs, under Serbian Vladimir Vermezovic, have been dishing out stylish victories while Ajax, coached by former Herenveen boss Foppe de Haan, are a technically gifted, young side reveling in the sophisticated brand of football the Dutchman has imported.

In the early game Cape Town’s newly-promoted team, Carlos das Neves’s well-drilled Vasco Da Gama, meet SuperSport United, whose ultra-competitive coach, Gavin Hunt, will be horrified to find his three-time successive champions in third-last place with two matches to go to the halfway stage.

Chiefs have done all the title chasers a favour by beating leaders Mamelodi Sundowns this past weekend. Amakhosi now are just a point behind the Brazilians.

Ajax are three points adrift of the leaders thanks to a hard-earned 2-1 victory over AmaZulu in a sweltering Ulundi on Saturday. The Cape side still managed to put together a respectable technical performance to outclass the KZN side in conditions that should have suited Usuthu.

Now De Haan’s youngsters will aim to announce themselves as serious title candidates against arguably the form team of the season.

The Dutchman is expecting tonight’s match to provide a spectacle against the dazzling backdrop of Cape Town Stadium.

“We are looking forward to playing here — there was a great atmosphere last time, and the pitch is unbelievable, the grass is perfect,” De Haan said.

“I’m satisfied with our preparations, now we need to go out and have the guts to do it. I trust my boys. We have to believe we have every chance to win …”

Chiefs assistant coach and former playing great Donald “Ace” Khuse is expecting another attractive meeting against Ajax.

“Games against Ajax are always fantastic matches for Chiefs, and this one will certainly be tough, but we’ve done well against them in the past and believe we can go and do it this time.”

One man with plenty of motivation to perform tonight will be Amakhosi’s now world-famous Siphiwe Tshabalala. The left wing, also a household name throughout South Africa, following a sterling 2010 that was crowned by his fantastic World Cup opening goal against Mexico, returned from rubbing shoulders with the game’s superstars on Monday night.

“Shaba” attended Fifa’s Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich where his famous strike had been nominated for goal of the year, and was approached and congratulated by such superstars as Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and players Andres Iniesta and Xavi. He might be the key player tonight.

Tonight: Vasco Da Gama v SuperSport United (Cape Town Stadium, 6 pm – live on SuperSport HD and SuperSport 4), Mpumalanga Black Aces v Bloemfontein Celtic (Mbombela Stadium, 8 pm), Ajax Cape Town v Kaizer Chiefs (Cape Town Stadium, 8.45 pm – live on SuperSport HD and SuperSport 4)

Tomorrow: Wits University v Moroka Swallows (Milpark, 3.30 pm), Mamelodi Sundowns v Maritzburg United (Lucas Moripe Stadium, 6 pm), Orlando Pirates v Santos (Orlando Stadium, 8.15 pm)

Sunday: AmaZulu v Lamontville Golden Arrows (Sugar Ray Xulu, 3.30 pm), Free State Stars v Platinum Stars (Goble Park, 3.30 pm)

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