THERE are plenty of sideshows to Ajax Cape Town’s hosting of Moroka Swallows in a crucial Premiership match at Athlone Stadium on Wednesday night.
Chief of these is the Birds’ desperation for the three points that could ensure no automatic relegation and move them out of the drop zone.
Victory for Swallows could take the Soweto club out of reach of AmaZulu below them if Usuthu do not match their result at University of Pretoria, and also above Chippa United if the Port Elizabeth side continue their poor form at Mpumalanga Black Aces.
That would leave Swallows’ destiny in their own hands going into the final round of matches on Saturday, a considerable carrot to be dangled in front of the players.
The match will also see a return to Ajax for Craig Rosslee, who was head coach of the Urban Warriors between 2007 and 2009, and led them to the Telkom Knockout in 2008.
He started the season in charge of AmaZulu and so knows all about the pressures at the bottom of the league. He hopes Swallows’ weekend 1-0 win over Maritzburg United has seen his side turn the corner.
"Now we’re in business and that’s the most important thing," Rosslee told reporters.
"To be under enormous pressure and to grind out the result like we did was fantastic. I’m very chuffed with them (the players).
"That now accumulates the pressure on everyone else, so we’ve done our job, and just continue in this way."
Rosslee will be without midfielder Kulegani Madondo as well as veteran defender Mbulelo Mabizela, who are both suspended.
On the other bench is a man with a soft spot for Swallows but who is not about to give up points as his Ajax have ambitions of their own. Roger de Sa is a Birds stalwart from his playing days and admits the Swallows result is the first one he looks for at the weekend, having maintained his affection for the club.
Ajax need just a single point from their two remaining games to be mathematically sure of a top-eight place and after some last-day disappointments in the past, De Sa will be eager not to take the issue into the weekend with Orlando Pirates on the horizon.
De Sa is missing in-form winger Franklin Cale due to suspension but will also be mindful of resting players with one eye on the Nedbank Cup final against Mamelodi Sundowns on May 16 in Port Elizabeth.
Of the previous seven meetings between the sides, Ajax have just a single win (and none at home), with three victories for Swallows and a further three draws.