Pirates a tough challenge for new coach
IT hasn’t taken Foppe de Haan long to settle in at his new club, Ajax Cape Town.
The legendary Dutch coach, highly respected in his native land, accepted the challenge of coming to South Africa to coach the ambitious Cape club.
After a successful coaching spell at Eredivisie side Heerenveen – where current Ajax goalkeeper Hans Vonk played at the time – De Haan was then unrivalled in his work with Dutch junior national teams. Many current and for mer Dutch international greats can credit De Haan with aiding their development and progress.
Now De Haan faces an altogether different challenge, in a country where he has not coached before.
But he is already making his presence felt and the Ajax squad are revelling in adapting to his fresh and innovative coaching methods.
Tonight, Ajax take on Orlando Pirates at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto (kick off 8.15pm, live on SuperSport 4) – and De Haan will want to ensure that his team continue making progress, and improving on their weak areas.
With the PSL’s two-week break for inter national fixtures, De Haan used the time to get to know his new players a bit closer during training sessions. It was a two-way thing, as players also had to become accustomed to yet another new coach.
After the departure of Craig Rosslee ( now the assistantcoach at Pirates) at the end of last season, the players had to acquaint themselves with the then new man Muhsin Ertugral. Ertugral departed to take up a lucrative offer in Turkey and the club’s technical director Jan Pruijn stepped into the hot seat in a temporary capacity.
De Haan was then appointed and the players have had to get used to another new man.
But signs are that the players are warming to De Haan.
Captain Brett Evans (still injured but is expected to be ready in two weeks’ time) this week spoke of the new coach’s keen sense of humour, how training was fun again and that the players were happy with De Haan.
For De Haan, it has been just as much a getting-to-knowyou exercise.
“I had to get used to the players,” he said. “I had to get to know them and they had to get to know me and the way I work. There is a great spirit going and I think we are up for the challenge tonight.”
Pirates represent a ster n challenge for De Haan and his men.
Up against them is Rosslee, still smarting from being dumped by Ajax, and Pirates Dutch coach Ruud Krol, eager to show De Haan that his coaching pedigree is as good as the new Ajax man.
While De Haan was relishing pitting his skill against Krol, he was more focused on getting his team to attack more and getting more players into the opposition penalty area.
“I can assure you the players are fit and motivated,” said De Haan. “We have been working on finishing, and scoring goals, and it has been going well. Now we have to put that into practice during games. Concentration, focus and composure are critical... and this is what I have impressed on the team.
“I want to bring my philosophy, the Dutch way, to Ajax. I want us to play possession football and get forward more.
“The ball has to get to the wingers and to the forwards and from there chances are created.”
DUTCH PHILOSOPHY: Ajax Cape Town’s new head coach, Foppe De Haan, wants to bring possession football to Cape Town… and get his team to play forward.