Birds go for broke

Moroka Swallows and Ajax Cape Town will be sick of looking at each other by September 25 when they would have played three times back-to-back in the space of 18 days.

The teams clash in the first of a three-game marathon at Dobsonville on Wednesday in an Absa Premiership clash at 8pm, followed by the two-legged MTN8 Cup semi-final.

The first leg will be played at the Athlone Stadium on Sunday at 3pm and the return leg at Dobsonville on September 25.

The winner will meet either Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates in the final on October 3.

Bucs and Amakhosi clash in their first leg semi-final at the FNB Stadium on Saturday night (8.15pm) with the second leg at the same venue on September 26.

Birds assistant coach Zeca Marques, stressed their would be no holding back on Wednesday, despite the fact the players’ minds could be on a possible Cup final date with one of their great Soweto rivals.

Marques said: “I am sure the two Cup matches and the final will be in the back of their minds, but that’s normal.

However, it will be business as usual for us on Wednesday.

We need to collect our first league point of the season and we are going flat out for those points. The obvious goal is three points and a place in the Cup final, but we know how good Ajax are and we are looking forward to three great matches.”

Marques said the Birds, who lost their opening league encounter against Sundowns last weekend, are determined to get their league season back on track and then set up a platform for a place in cup final.

“We are determined to beat Ajax on Wednesday and not only collect our first three points, but also gain a psychological boost going into the first away leg of the Cup at the weekend in Cape Town,” he said.

Marques has a high regard for the Urban Warriors who he said could finish in the top three of the Premiership this season.

“Ajax have a young side full of running and enthusiasm, backed by experience. It will not be easy going in the three matches.”

Marques, in an appraisal of the Birds’ disappointing 2-0 loss to Downs, offered no excuses other than they were beaten by a better side.

“The fact we held out for 80 minutes was a credit to our defence. Sundowns are a quality side and one who I believe will be among the contenders for honours this season.”

Marques admitted goalkeeper Aubrey Mathibe made a mistake in conceding the first goal against big spending Brazilians, but the technical team under head coach Rainer Zobel, have no intention of dropping Mathibe.

“Mistakes happen and unfortunately, when a goalkeeper makes one, it usually ends in a goal. But we have confidence in Mathibe and it never crossed our minds to drop him.

“All players, especially strikers, make mistakes. We would not have had any players left if we dropped strikers and midfielder every time they made mistakes. We are confident Mathibe will bounce back strongly against Ajax in the coming triple header.”

Birds will be without injured captain Lefa Tsutsulupa who could be sidelined for another month, while defender Thomas Cichon is fighting the clock to be fit.

The good news is teenage striker Auguston Leonard is back and will be fighting for his place alongside veteran Siyabonga Nomvethe in attack.

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