Ajax, it’s time you grew a pair ...
A back- to- basics approach for a win- at- all- costs clash in the city
THE struggle continues for Ajax Cape Town when they host SuperSport United in a PSL fixture at Cape Town Stadium tonight (8.15pm kickoff).
Considering the context within which the Cape club finds itself, victory is without doubt of great importance.
Winless after seven games (six in the league and one in the Telkom Knockout), the situation is desperate for Ajax and their new head coach, Stanley Menzo.
Menzo, though, will only start work on Monday. For tonight’s fixture, he’ll watch from the stands, while assistant coach Mich d’Avray picks the team and runs the show from the bench.
In SuperSport, though, the Urban Warriors are up against a high-quality opponent. The structured approach of Matsatsantsa’s coach, Stuart Baxter, has finally seeped into the players and they are playing the football expected of the top- class squad they have put together.
Bafana Bafana midfielder Dean Furman is back to his best after a dip in form last year, Kiwi Jeremy Brockie has his scoring boots laced up again, and winger Thuso Phala, continues to cause havoc in opposition defences.
So, as Ajax head into tonight’s win-at-all-costs clash, let’s examine a few facets they need to focus on... Revert to the Ajax way THE football that attracted fans to always rally behind Ajax was a smooth-passing, confident- in- possession style of play. Of late, this has been missing.
In the defeat to Wits on Wednesday, the Cape side gave the ball away so often it was painful. They would fight to regain the ball, then turn possession over in seconds, allowing the Clever Boys to constantly exert pressure on their defence. In essence, Ajax have to start keeping the ball again. Go back to the basics WHAT was most shocking about the performance against Wits was the shoddy touch and technique of some Ajax players. This is the most basic aspect of the sport that separates a professional from an amateur and if there are footballers at Ajax still struggling to control the ball, then they shouldn’t be playing at this level. On numerous occasions, it was the poor first touch that surrendered possession to Wits, and they were able to launch attack after attack by capitalising on Ajax’s schoolboy errors. Grow a pair and handle the pressure PRESSURE, there’s always pressure in every game – this is a mantra the Ajax players need to constantly repeat. To play in the PSL, the highest level of club football in the country, is no Sunday afternoon stroll in the park. It demands footballers to perform under pressure, and yet as things are unfolding at Ajax, it’s clear the players are buckling under the stress.
Hence their haste in possession, lapses in concentration, treating the ball like a hot potato, and their complete lack of composure in front of goal.
They have to get used to the fact that pressure is a constant presence and, as a team, Ajax are going to have to accept the parlous position they are in, manage it, and be fearless and unflinching in their efforts to turn things around. Where’s the pride in performance? ANY footballer, any team, whether it’s in a social league or in an international, is keen to give of the best – nothing less. It’s the nature of the game as players want to impress, to exhibit their skill, courage and team ethic, in order to contribute to a performance that delivers a win.
This is pride in performance, the knowledge that when the referee blows the final whistle, when the players troop off the field, the player can feel satisfied that he has given his all, not just for the benefit of the team or the club, but for himself. How many Ajax players are able to say this after the opening seven games played? Not too many, I presume.
HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT IT? The likes of Prince Nxumalo need to give their best and show some pride in their performance.