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Tough Ask For The Sea Robbers At Newlands 03/05/05
Log leaders Orlando Pirates face a stern test of their character as they look for maximum points from their match against Ajax Cape Town at the Newlands Stadium tonight.

Having being held to a 1-1 draw by title-chasing Kaizer Chiefs on the weekend, the Buccaneers know that nothing less than three points will do as the likes of Chiefs and Sundowns are closing in on them at the top of the log.

Games between Pirates and Ajax always seem to produce a bit of extra needle and tonight's match will be no different, especially considering the fiasco that surrounded Bucs' last visit to the Cape - they ended up postponing the game against the Urban Warriors, claiming that the players were suffering from food poisoning.

Although the first round league encounter between the North and South rivals saw Pirates give Ajax a 6-0 hiding, things are expected to be very different tonight.

The Urban Warriors have enjoyed a fantastic last few months and will be on an all time high after having qualified for the final stage of the African Champion's League.

With their place in the Top Eight virtually secured, Ajax are under little pressure, which will enable them to play an open and free-flowing game.

Ajax club skipper Bradley August, who has to sit out this game with a knee injury, is confident his team-mates can sink the Buccaneers' ship tonight.

"The guys are really enjoying their game at the moment as there is no pressure on us," he said. "The youngsters have really come through well in the last couple of weeks and we are all very confident at the moment. There is a great vibe in the camp and there are smiles on everyone's faces.

"Tonight is another chance for us to show the people of Cape Town and South Africa that Ajax are one of the best sides in the country. We are looking to end the season on a high note - unfortunately we had a bad start to the season, otherwise we could have been challenging for the league ourselves."

August, who is devastated about not being able to take to the park tonight, agrees that one man his team-mates will have to keep and eye on is the speedy Pirates striker, Lebogang Mokoena, who had an outstanding game against Chiefs.

"Yes, he looked very sharp on Saturday and is very dangerous when he runs straight at defenders," said August.

Of course Bucs have a number of other potential match-winners too - the names of Benedict Vilakazi, Gift Leremi and Steve Lekoelea spring to mind. However, having spent a season as the Bucs mentor, Ajax coach Gordon Igesund will know exactly what to expect from the Soweto side.

He may not have got it right for the first round game, but tonight's match will see a very different Ajax side take to the field and Pirates coach Kosta 'Bill Clinton' Papic is going to have his work cut out for him if he wants to take all three points back to Johannesburg.

Rain is also expected at the Newlands Stadium tonight, which should also favor the hosts. The match kicks off at 20H30.

By Anthony McLennan

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