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