There’s a big­ger pic­ture for Cale

Shunned Ajax star a threat to Amakhosi

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - ROD­NEY REINERS To­mor­row, live on Su­perS­port4 and SABC1 at 3pm

A FOOT­BALLER can­not con­cern him­self with things that are be­yond his con­trol. He can only go out on to the field of play, per­form to the best of his abil­ity, and hope that his tal­ent is recog­nised and re­warded.

This is the sit­u­a­tion faced by Ajax Cape Town’s star left-winger Franklin Cale as he leads his club’s as­sault on the MTN8 cup com­pe­ti­tion to­mor­row.

Ajax take on Kaizer Chiefs in a sec­ond leg semi-fi­nal of this lu­cra­tive and pop­u­lar event – the win­ner pock­ets a healthy R8 mil­lion – at the Or­lando Sta­dium in Soweto to­mor­row af­ter­noon (kick-off 3pm), and Cale is primed to play a vi­tal, in­flu­en­tial role for the Cape side.

Cale has been one of the most con­sis­tent per­form­ers in the South African PSL over the last two sea­sons. He has been the creative spark that has seen the Capeto­ni­ans to great suc­cess. His pace, power, blind­ing skill and cross­ing abil­ity are the ful­crum to all that is of­fen­sive about Ajax’s ap­proach to the sport.

While his tal­ent and abil­ity have been recog­nised by Ajax, and over­seas clubs have shown an in­ter­est, Cale has not been able to con­vince the Bafana Bafana se­lec­tors of his worth.

He was called up once to be part of the SA na­tional foot­ball squad – but was not even given a chance off the bench. It’s a state of af­fairs that dis­ap­points Cale, though he knows there’s ab­so­lutely noth­ing he can do about it.

His job – and his ob­jec­tive this sea­son – is sim­ply to play foot­ball. This is within his con­trol and is what he will do.

Last sea­son, Cale was the sub­ject of nu­mer­ous en­quiries from a few over­seas clubs. But Ajax rate their 26-year-old winger so highly, they moved quickly to se­cure a longer stay. And, ear­lier this sea­son, Cale signed a three-year ex­ten­sion to his cur­rent Ajax con­tract.

To­mor­row, Cale con­tin­ues his jour ney to win over the Bafana se­lec­tors.

The 2010 World Cup is 292 days away. And for a lo­cal lad from the Cape town­ships, what would be bet­ter than to be a part of the Bafana World Cup squad right here on South African soil.

That’s the aim. That’s the ob­jec­tive.

Chiefs, though, won’t be pushed aside lightly to­mor­row.

Ajax coach Muhsin Er­tu­gral, a for­mer Amakhosi coach, is aware of the dan­ger posed by a wounded Chiefs side.

“Chiefs are al­ways Chiefs, a great club with very good play­ers,” said Er­tu­gral. “They will be de­ter­mined and will come out fight­ing to­mor­row, of that I am sure.”

And Chiefs have much to of­fer in terms of want­ing to get back at Ajax.

In ad­di­tion to los­ing the first leg 1-0, Chiefs were also lumped with a R500 000 fine (R150 000 sus­pended) for the rau­cous, van­dal­is­tic be­hav­iour of their fans dur­ing that first leg at New­lands.

Chiefs wel­come back strik­ers Nkosi­nathi Nh­leko and Venezue­lan Jose Tor­re­alba to the squad.

Hav­ing strug­gled in front of goal of late, the duo pro­vides a sig­nif­i­cant boost for Ser­bian coach Vladimir Ver mezovic ahead of to­mor­row’s cup tie.

“We have had to do without the ser­vices of (Nkosi­nathi) Nh­leko and (Jose) Tor­re­alba for the past two games, af­ter both were in­jured, and it left us thin up front,” said Ver­me­zovic. “Now that they are back, we should be stronger in that depart­ment.

“Last time, against Ajax, in the sec­ond half of the game, we showed that we can play and, to me, it was a good sign. We know that we can bounce back from our cur­rent slump and start show­ing the same form we showed dur­ing pre-sea­son.

“That de­feat to Ajax is wa­ter un­der the bridge ... this is a new game, with new op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

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