De Sa now has one more reason to smile
ROGER DE SA couldn’t help but betray a broad grin that perfectly summed up his satisfaction at the squad Ajax Cape Town have assembled.
The Cape side takes on Polokwane City in a PSL fixture at the Cape Town Stadium tomorrow night (kickoff 8.15pm) – and head coach De Sa was quite happy to accept that he would regularly be faced with a major selection headache this season.
“For the first time since I took over at Ajax, I have good depth in every position on the field,” said De Sa. “It makes for good competition in the squad and it makes my task of selecting the team very difficult. But, as a coach, it’s a great problem to have… even this week the guys were buzzing at training.
“Next week we have the MTN8 final and, while we haven’t even spoken about that match yet, the players know they are fighting for their places.”
De Sa says Ajax have made some astute signings this season in beefing up the squad. Yesterday, he confirmed he had managed to persuade management to sign Erwin Isaacs.
The 28-year-old from Lavender Hill, after being released by Wits, was a free agent, which is why he could be signed outside the transfer window.
“We are happy to have Erwin back in the squad,” said De Sa. “He was with us last season on loan and he was a great addition to the squad.
“We were quite surprised that he became available and it didn’t take me too long to convince the bosses to sign him. Erwin adds a Cape Town taste and style to the squad, he’s well-liked by the players, and we are confident he can do a job for us.”
In addition to Isaacs, Ajax have signed Thomas Chideu, Prince Nxumalo, Ruzaigh Gamildien, Ndiviwe Mdabuka, Asive Langwe, Abel Mabaso and Larry Cohen.
While the new players, together with the exciting young stars in the squad, have De Sa smiling in anticipation of a promising campaign, he knows teams will make life difficult for them. And he is especially wary of Polokwane tomorrow.
“They are an extremely tough side to play against,” he said. “Last season, we could only manage a 1-1 draw against them at home…
“Polokwane are different to other teams in the PSL… they come at you in numbers. They play an attacking game that doesn’t offer any respect to the opposition. They don’t mind if you score, they just keep coming. Because of this, we will have to ensure that we are organised and that we keep our shape and discipline.”
On the injury front, centre back Rivaldo Coetzee is a concern. The 18-year-old was injured in Bafana Bafana’s 3-1 away defeat to Mauritania and he sat out the subsequent 1-0 victory over Senegal in Soweto.
De Sa says Coetzee had returned from national duty with a badly swollen ankle – and Ajax would assess him before making a decision on whether he takes his place against Polokwane or not.
Nxumalo, who in just a short period since signing for Ajax was this week named as the PSL’s Player of the Month for August, is also back on the road to recovery. The striker spent a few days in intensive care after a bad epileptic fit, but is already champing at the bit to get back on the field.
“I had a chat to Prince at training and told him that I want to bring him along slowly after his experience,” said De Sa. “He is on medication now and there shouldn’t be a further problem. There are many top athletes around the world who have his condition and they do just fine…
“But Prince has already told me that he is ready to play… I don’t know, we’ll continue to monitor him. He is in the squad for the game against Polokwane and, if we think he’s ready, he’ll play a role.” PSL fixtures Tomorrow: Golden Arrows v Mamelodi Sundowns; Free State Stars v Chippa United; SuperSport United v Kaizer Chiefs; Ajax Cape Town v Polokwane City (Cape Town Stadium, 8.15pm); Maritzburg Utd v Bloemfontein Celtic Sunday: University of Pretoria v Wits; Jomo Cosmos v Platinum Stars