Polokwane City and Ajax Cape Town will both be searching for their first win of 2017 when they clash at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Limpopo side have drawn their first two matches of the year 1-1 with both Maritzburg United and Highlands Park, leaving them in sixth position, eight points off the summit of the Premiership.
Ajax’s form has been less satisfactory, a 5-0 hiding away to Bidvest Wits followed by a 2-0 derby loss to Cape Town City. They are 11th, four points above the relegation zone.
After having initially overseen a good run of form since taking charge of the Urban Warriors late last year, head coach Stanley Menzo admits it’s a stressful time right now.
“Yes, I’m feeling the pressure because I want to win and I hate losing, so I’m feeling the pressure because I know that we need the points,” he said.
The Dutchman says his wary of the pace Polokwane City’s attackers bring.
“They have a lot of pace forward, they play a lot of balls over the last defence of the opponent. They have good runners and players who are strong in the one-against-one in the spaces,” he added.
“They’ll get a lot of balls behind our defence so if we [don’t apply] pressure on the ball, we’re going to have a big problem. We have to be smart and don’t give too much space behind our defence.”
Such has Rise and Shine coach Luc Eymael’s success been with Polokwane, that he has been mentioned by some as an option for the vacant head coach position at Orlando Pirates.
But the Belgian is focussed at the job at hand and says he has seen signs that his team is ready to claim their first three-pointer of the year.
“We played the better football [against Highlands Park] – we played good football, unfortunately we took so long to score,” he said.
“It was difficult to come back, we hit the crossbar, we showed great fighting spirit and eventually scored [for a 1-1 draw]. We need to build on that to try and get three points against Ajax.”
Neither team has any suspensions. The Urban Warriors will be without Roscoe Pietersen (injured) and Prince Nxumalo (illness), while Eymael should have a clean bill of health.
Ajax have five players – Travis Graham, Mark Mayambela, Lawrence Lartey, Rivaldo Coetzee and Ndiviwe Mdabuka – all one booking away from a ban. Puleng Tloane and Maphoko Seabi are the only players for Rise and Shine currently on three accumulated yellow cards.