Test of character for Ajax this weekend

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Kick off is at 17h00.

The Urban Warriors could find themselves in third place and as much as four points adrift of leaders Supersport United if the Tshwane team and fellow title challengers Santos win their matches earlier in the weekend against Orlando Pirates and Jomo Cosmos respectively.

The good news for Craig Rosslee’s young side is that they will then have two games in hand (one of which is this encounter against Swallows) and their fate in the title race will be very much in their own hands.

Fighting on both domestic and international fronts is a massive test of character for the young Urban Warriors team whose rivals for the Absa Premiership have no such distractions, however, assistant coach Wilfred Mugeyi says the fact that the team managed to score four away goals and keeping clean sheets in the two matches speaks volumes.

He says Ajax has a squad that is as big as it is talented and thus up to the task of conquering in both tournaments.

“I think we can ably compete locally and in the Confederations Cup. All the guys are raring to go and the players that were on the injury list are all back.”

Inspirational midfielder Clifford Ngobeni has made a remarkable recovery from injury while Nazeer Allie is now available for selection.

Swallows, however, will not be accommodating opponents this weekend.

The Birds themselves are locked in a battle with a handful of other clubs to finish in the top eight of the log table and they are licking their wounds following a 1-3 defeat against fierce Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs last weekend.

Ian Gorowa can rightly point to some debatable refereeing decisions that went against his team in that match, but he would do better to focus on their accuracy in front of goal – a plethora of missed chances was the true source of Swallows’ defeat, not controversial officiating.

When these teams met in the first half of the Absa Premiership season, Ajax handed the Birds a 4-1 pasting thanks to goals from Mfundo Shumana, Russell Mwafulirwa, Nhlanhla Shabalala and Thembinkosi Fanteni.

This time around the match is likely to be much tighter, as suggested by the head-to-head statistics. Both sides have won seven matches apiece in their 17 league meetings since Ajax was formed back in 1999, and even the goals for/against column is equal at 23 each.

LAST FIVE RESULTS: Swallows: Date H/A Opponent Result 06/04/08 H Kaizer Chiefs L 1-3 23/03/08 A Jomo Cosmos D 0-0 09/03/08 H Thanda Royal Zulu D 0-0 05/03/08 A Black Leopards W 3-1 02/03/08 H Bloemfontein Celtic W 3-1

Ajax: 19/03/08 H Platinum Stars D 1-1 07/03/08 A BidVest Wits W 1-0 04/03/08 A SuperSport United L 2-3 01/03/08 H Kaizer Chiefs D 1-1 24/02/08 A Jomo Cosmos W 1-0

HEAD TO HEAD STATS: League meetings since 1999/2000:

1999/2000 Ajax 2 (Modise 2) Swallows 1 (Ningiza) Swallows 0 Ajax 0

2000/01 Swallows 1(Ningiza) Ajax 1 (Francis) Ajax 2 (Francis, Jansen) Swallows 1 (Mazibuko)

2001/02 Ajax 1 (Sheppard) Swallows 0 Swallows 4 (Hartley, Batchelor, Sebona, Williams) Ajax 0

2002/03 Swallows 1 (Ngobeni) Ajax 0 Ajax 1 (Paulse) Swallows 1 (A. Ndlovu)

2003/04 Ajax 1 (Tsholola) Swallows 0 Swallows 2 (Lota, Lekone) Ajax 1 (Paulse)

2004/05 Swallows 3 (Ndlela 3 (1 pen)) Ajax 0 Ajax 1 (August) Swallows 2 (Permall, Ndlela)

2005/06 Ajax 2 (Motlhajwa, Chikoya (og)) Swallows 1 (Botes) Swallows 1 (Marumo) Ajax 5 (Fanteni 2, Cale 2, Carelse)

2006/07 Ajax 1 (Fanteni) Swallows 2 (Oerson, Haskins) Swallows 2 (Botes, Chalwe) Ajax 0

2007/08 Ajax 4 (Shumana Mwafulirwa, Shabalala, Fanteni) Swallows 1 (Ndlovu)

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