Cape Town giants gear up for the Cape Town Stadium Soccer Festival
Cape Town Premier Soccer League sides Santos and Ajax Cape Town will meet in an eagerly-anticipated Derby at The Cape Town Stadium Soccer Festival on 23 January (kick-off 16h00), with local pride at stake for both teams.
The pair has enjoyed good seasons and as they enter the final stretch in the League, and will be hoping to use the event, hosted by the City of Cape Town, organised by Stadium Operators SAIL STADEFRANCE and sponsored by Virgin Active Health Clubs and MTN, to fine-tune preparations for the remainder of the campaign.
“Virgin Active sees this partnership opportunity as the first step to a continued and integral part of the Cape Town Stadium going forward. We are part of the community of South Africa and are proud to host the first ever game at our world class stadium,” Virgin Active Managing Director, Ross Faragher-Thomas, says.
“Derbies are special occasions all over the world and the drama and excitement of this one between Ajax Cape Town and Santos will be heightened by the wonderful setting in the brand-new Cape Town Stadium. As the exclusive African global sponsor, MTN is proud to be associated with this prestigious event,” says Veli Mabena, MTN Brand and Communication General Manager.
Of course, there is no extra motivation needed when these two giants of the Cape Town soccer scene meet, but both will be desperate to record a first-ever victory in the brand-new R4.5-billion Cape Town Stadium, which will be officially opened on match day.
Santos won both League encounters between the two sides earlier in the campaign and will be looking to make it a hat-trick of successes against their local rivals.
An own goal from Ajax Cape Town skipper Brett Evans, as well as a Musa Otieno strike just a minute later, gave The People’s Team a 2-0 success in their first meeting in August last year. Santos then followed that up with a 1-0 success thanks to an Erwin Isaacs goal in the first half of the reverse fixture in November.
Those results have been part of an excellent season for Santos, who welcomed back Boebie Solomons as head coach at the start of the campaign.
Solomons had previous success with the side in his first stint in charge, leading them to the 2002 BP Top Eight and 2003 Absa Cup, beating Ajax Cape Town in the final of the latter competition at a packed Athlone Stadium.
Santos currently lie fourth in the Premier Soccer League table, eight points behind leaders SuperSport United, but with a game in hand. They have the most miserly defence in the top flight with just 13 goals conceded in their 23 matches, keeping an impressive 12 clean-sheets in the process.
Aside from those wins over Ajax Cape Town, other highlights of the season so far include a 1-0 success over big-spending Mamelodi Sundowns thanks to a Tyren Arendse goal, which will have been extra special for the former Brazilians player.
Erwin Isaacs netted as they beat Orlando Pirates 1-0 - it is always a happy event when beating one of the Soweto giants - while the 4-0 thumping handed out to Maritzburg United in early November was a master-class in attacking football. Phikolethu Spelman and Ryan Chapman each scored braces that day.
The 2-2 draw obtained away against defending champions SuperSport United in October was also an excellent result, as Spelman netted a dramatic 90th minute equaliser after Graham King had put the Cape side ahead early on.
Ajax Cape Town has had an up-and-down campaign, reaching the MTN8 final but then losing to Lamontville Golden Arrows in the decider at the Orlando Stadium. Their League form has also been a little erratic, but they remain a tremendous side, who on their day can pull any side apart.
They began the season with the return of Turkish mentor Muhsin Ertugral as coach, and celebrated with wins over Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs on their way to that MTN8 final.
They also beat SuperSport United in the League, the only defeat Matsatsantsa suffered in their opening 21 matches this season, with former Santos man Dipsy Selolwane netting the all-important goal.
Sifiso Vilakazi, now departed the club, and Diyo Sibisi netted in an excellent 2-1 success over Mamelodi Sundowns in September, after which Ertugral departed to take up a “dream” job in his homeland with Sivasspor.
Ajax Cape Town moved swiftly to replace him with Dutch coach Foppe de Haan, who brings with him a wealth of experience from coaching in Europe.
The host of the event, the City of Cape Town will also provide a FREE shuttle service from the Civic Centre in Hertzog Boulevard to the stadium and back, and all you need to do to use the facility is present your match tickets.
A Helpline +2721 487 6800 - has been set up for those who require further information on the event.