Uzoenyi’s flair and spirit in­spires Ajax to their first vic­tory

The Sunday Independent - - SPORT -

AF­TER a frus­trat­ing and lethar­gic first half against Polok­wane City at the Cape Town Sta­dium on Fri­day night, it was thanks to an in­spired 30-minute cameo from Ejike Uzoenyi that Ajax Cape Town were able to emerge as 2-0 win­ners.

It was the Cape club’s first win of the sea­son, but head coach Stan­ley Menzo, ad­mit­ted he wasn’t too happy with the man­ner in which his team played in that open­ing 45 min­utes.

Uzoenyi, who was mak­ing his


de­but for Ajax when com­ing on in the 57th minute, was the cat­a­lyst for the sec­ond half turn­around. The 25-year-old Nige­rian winger has had a spell play­ing in France with Rennes and was a mem­ber of his coun­try’s 2014 World Cup squad. He then spent three years at Mamelodi Sun­downs and last sea­son at Wits. So far he has failed to live up to po­ten­tial in the PSL – but, if his bright start as an Ajax player is any­thing to go by, then it’s time to sit up and take no­tice. Hav­ing signed for the Cape side in Au­gust, it has taken a while for Uzoenyi to get his work per­mit. But, once his reg­is­tra­tion card ar­rived last week, Menzo had no hes­i­ta­tion in throw­ing the player in for his de­but off the bench. “It was a strange match,” said Menzo. “We seemed to lack con­fi­dence and be­lief in the first half. Passes were go­ing astray, there wasn’t enough move­ment, no­body wanted the ball and there were too many play­ers watch­ing and not play­ing. At half-time, I es­pe­cially told the team that they shouldn’t be afraid to make mis­takes. And then, when Ejike (Uzoenyi) came on, he gave us some flair and spirit. He still has to get a bit fit­ter, but he will be good for us.”

Uzoenyi was in­volved in the build-up to Ajax’s goals, with both scored by striker Prince Nx­u­malo.

“I’m happy with the win and I’m hop­ing it will lift us up,” said Menzo.

“It takes away some of the pres­sure from me and from the club. Now we have to work on the next one, and keep go­ing.”

As for Polok­wane, they did well in the first half, when they had the bet­ter of the scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, but they couldn’t sus­tain it.

“I thought we were the bet­ter team in the first half,” said Polok­wane’s coach Bernard Molekwa. “We had good chances, which we didn’t take.”

The big news with re­gard to Polok­wane was the re­turn to ac­tion of for­mer Mi­lano United cap­tain Nazier “Kaka” Ja­cobs. In March last year, af­ter the mid­fielder from Laven­der Hill had signed for the Lim­popo Prov­ince club, he was in an hor­rific car crash and was in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion. It has been a long, hard road to re­cov­ery – and, on Fri­day, he was able to play for Polok­wane again, 18 months af­ter an ac­ci­dent that nearly ended his life.

Mar­itzburg United and Or­lando Pi­rates drew 0-0 at the Harry Gwala Sta­dium in Fri­day night’s other match.

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