Sometimes, it takes a silly goal to change everything
CONSISTENCY, goals and Lady Luck have all deserted Ajax Cape Town but coach Roger de Sa is not about to bury his head in the sand.
Five games into the PSL season, Ajax are yet to win (two draws and three defeats) and De Sa – the professional that he is – is fully aware of how precarious the situation is.
But he’s not about to ignore the signs of danger, he knows it has to be dealt with – that’s just the nature of the coaching hot seat in any top-flight league across the football world.
Ajax face SuperSport United in the opening round of the Telkom Knockout in Atteridgeville tonight (8.15pm kickoff) and for De Sa, it’s important that his men turn things around as quickly as possible, even if they have to do so in a cup tie.
“Of course, there’s pressure,” De Sa said. “As a football coach, there’s pressure every week. But we can’t shy away from where we are in the league, we just have to face the problem head on, and have a go. We have to get it right, we have to get out of this rut as soon as possible. We just have to focus on ourselves and I’m sure that a few good performances will turn it all around.
“Look, the big problem is that we haven’t scored enough goals,” he added. “We’re creating opportunities all the time, but we are just not converting.
“Sometimes, you know, it just takes a moment that changes everything. It could be a silly goal that deflects off someone and goes into the net. All we need is a bit of luck, although often it’s even better when you create your own luck. We just need it to turn and then build from there…”
De Sa was expecting a tough outing against an in- form SuperSport side, though he did suggest that the structured style of the Pretoria club could just be the ideal opposition for the Urban Warriors to plot a change in fortune.
“With Stuart Baxter as coach, you know the opponents are going to be organised and structured,” De Sa said. “They’ve got a good, well-balanced squad, they’ve made some quality signings, and they’ve got great depth. It doesn’t matter who plays, they’ll be strong.
“But we know what to expect and sometimes that’s good because you can plan and prepare – and it’s better than playing a team you don’t know so well.
“I don’t think our results so far have been a reflection of how we’ve played. We’ve done okay, though we have been bad in patches and given away some soft goals. It just needs to turn, and if it’s in today’s cup game, then so be it.”
But Nathan Paulse, Lebohang Mokoena and Toriq Losper all miss out through injury. Ajax have a busy week – tonight it’s SuperSport, Wednesday it’s Wits in the PSL and next Saturday it’s Matsatsantsa again, this time in the league ( the two league games are both at Cape Town Stadium) – which means that De Sa faces an intriguing selection juggle.
“Even with the injuries, we have more than enough to choose from,” said De Sa. “There are a few youngsters knocking quite hard on the selection door. The problem is that some of them are preparing for exams, and we have to take that into consideration as well. But I can tell you that a one or two of them will get some game time tonight.
“This is a great bunch of guys I’m working with. The squad puts in the effort, they support each other, and you won’t see anybody drop his chin because he has not been selected. We have to back them… because, with their commitment and hard work, it has to turn, and I’m sure it will.” Telkom Knockout first-round fixtures Today: Free State Stars v Wits, Kaizer Chiefs v Maritzburg, SuperSport United v Ajax Cape Town (Atteridgeville, 8.15pm). Tomorrow: Orlando Pirates v Golden Arrows, Baroka FC v Platinum Stars.
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