Ajax to clip 'Birds' wings?
It has been a staggering six years since Ajax Cape Town defeated one of the so-called big guns to triumph in a domestic knockout competition.
And coach Muhsin Etrugral has called for that run to finally come to an end when his young marauders take on an unpredictable Moroka Swallows side in the last quarter-final match of the Telkom Knockout at the Greenpoint Stadium on Wednesday night (kick-off 7.30pm).
December 2000 was the last time the 'Urban Warriors' rejoiced when goals from Carlo Scott, Shaun Potgieter, Shaun Permall and Steven Pienaar sealed a 4-1 replay spanking over Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium.
Facing a Swallows team that can display its brilliance and slyness with ease in one match and become so dreadful in the next, the Turkish-born coach was prompted to call for a mammoth effort against Gavin Hunt's charges.
"It's about time we ended this sequence," Ertrugral said.
He added: "We need games of such magnitude to gauge how far we have progressed. The money is the biggest factor as it was a proven when Santos and Silver Stars eliminated Soweto-giants Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs respectively, so we must follow suit by beating Swallows.
"The boys are maturing by each game and I want them to advance to the semi-final of this knockout competition. We have no financial sponsor like Swallows so we have to show that hunger in the field.
"We have to make life difficult for our opponents by quickly closing them down especially midfielder Lefa Tsutsulupa who proved a tough customer when they beat us in the league campaign previously. I have no injuries to ponder so we stand a good chance of realising that dream of going through the last four."
Following the sour exit of both Chiefs and Pirates, the 'Birds' are the only torch bearers for the soccer-crazy people of Soweto.
But, after getting a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of the imperious Bidvest Wits University and bundling out Benoni Premier United in the last 16 stage during extra-time, it remains to be seen whether Swallows can weather the storms to clinch that all-important berth in the last four.
"It was sad for both Chiefs and Pirates to be eliminated but that is football. We have to take Ajax seriously otherwise we will follow the two giants," said Swallows captain Goodman Mazibuko.
"This is the richest tournament in the country and we cannot afford to slip. They (Ajax) are a good side with a well-known coach who has transformed them to a well-balanced team. Despite having a bunch of unknown players unlike us, they are a stubborn team so we need to be cautious of them.
"We are still reeling from our embarrassing defeat by Wits in the league game, so it is important to get that out of our system by beating Ajax at their home ground."
By Patrick Baloyi and PSL website