A sea­son of change in the Cape as new faces sign up

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ROD­NEY REINERS

THE MOTHER CITY’S two PSL clubs are al­ready hard at work in prepa­ra­tion for the new sea­son. And the im­por­tant thing about sport is that what­ever hap­pened be­fore, counts for noth­ing.

Cape Town City cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of the pub­lic in their de­but cam­paign last sea­son, but how will they go this time around?

Ajax Cape Town con­tin­ued their er­ratic form last sea­son and only man­aged to move away from the dan­ger of rel­e­ga­tion to­wards the end of the cam­paign. Will they im­prove this sea­son?

Here’s a brief up­date on what’s been hap­pen­ing at the two Cape clubs.

AJAX CAPE TOWN

The big news at Ajax is, of course, the shake-up in the tech­ni­cal depart­ment, with prom­i­nent roles for two of the Mother City’s most fa­mous foot­ball sons: Boe­bie Solomons and Dun­can Crowie. Un­doubted stars of the sport dur­ing the era of seg­re­gated foot­ball, both Solomons and Crowie have trans­ferred their play­ing suc­cess to the craft of coach­ing.

For­mer San­tos stal­wart Crowie, has fo­cused pri­mar­ily on youth foot­ball and this sea­son he takes up the po­si­tion of head coach of Young Ajax and the club’s se­cond divi­sion out­fit.

For­mer Cape Town Spurs mid­fielder Solomons, now 62-years-old, who has worked at San­tos, Wits, Mar­itzburg United, Black Leop­ards, Win­ners Park, Polok­wane City, Cape Town All Stars, Mi­lano United and FC Cape Town, takes up a new role as an as­sis­tant coach to Stanley Menzo.

For­mer Ajax Am­s­ter­dam goal­keeper Menzo con­tin­ues to serve as the head coach, while last sea­son’s as­sis­tant, Mich d’Avray, is now the club’s head of foot­ball.

For­mer Bafana Bafana goal­keeper Hans Vonk is the head of youth and he will be as­sisted and ad­vised by re­spected Dutch men­tor Foppe de Haan. On paper, it’s a real dream team. Con­sid­er­ing how poorly Ajax have per­formed over the last two sea­sons, the one thing they are go­ing to need is a qual­ity, set­tled squad, de­ter­mined to give their all for the club.

Al­ready, a month be­fore the start of the new sea­son, the sit­u­a­tion around Ri­valdo Coet­zee is threat­en­ing to de­rail their prepa­ra­tion.

The 20-year-old Bafana cen­tral de­fender, who still has two years left on his con­tract, is cur­rently ab­sent with­out leave. He has not re­turned to pre-sea­son train­ing, and the word is that he is not a happy chappy.

Coet­zee be­lieves his high-pro­file role at the club de­serves a bet­ter salary – and, if Ajax are not pre­pared to meet his fi­nan­cial de­mands, then he wants to leave.

In ad­di­tion to Coet­zee, another player far from happy with the man­ner in which he has been treated is vet­eran Nathan Paulse. The 35-year-old has been re­leased be­cause the per­cep­tion is that he has “re­tired”. Not so, says Paulse. While the striker, who gave Ajax many years of loyal ser­vice, is al­ready fo­cus­ing on the next phase of his ca­reer – he is cur­rently do­ing the Caf C coach­ing li­cence – he be­lieves he still has the en­ergy, the drive and the hunger to per­form in the PSL.

New sign­ings at Ajax in­clude striker Sed­wyn George, who picked up the NFD Golden Boot at the PSL awards cer­e­mony last night for scor­ing 20 goals for Royal Ea­gles last sea­son, and pow­er­ful cen­tral de­fender Isaac Nh­lapo, signed from Plat­inum Stars.

CAPE TOWN CITY

City’s prepa­ra­tion for the new sea­son is spear­headed by new coach Benni McCarthy, who will be as­sisted by Ian Taylor.

McCarthy, in his first sea­son as a head coach, will rely heav­ily on the sup­port of Taylor. The for­mer Battswood player is a quiet, yet in­tel­li­gent pres­ence be­hind the scenes and knows the PSL in­side-out.

All eyes will be on McCarthy, though, to see whether he can em­u­late his play­ing suc­cess as a coach. The for­mer Bafana striker’s fa­mous quote about his new role is “ev­ery­body has to start some­where”, which is why he is not putting him­self un­der too much pres­sure.

City’s new sign­ings in­clude striker Ayanda Patosi, Mozam­bi­can de­fender Jeitoso and for­mer Bloem­fontein Celtic winger Lyle Lakay. It’s a wel­come re­turn home for Lakay, who could have an in­flu­en­tial role to play early on in the sea­son as Aubrey Ngoma makes his way back from a knee op­er­a­tion.

A big loss for City, how­ever, is Thato Mokeke, who has re­turned to Su­perS­port United.

The ver­sa­tile foot­baller was an in­flu­en­tial pres­ence for the Cape side last sea­son, in a num­ber of po­si­tions on the field, and he will be missed.

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