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IT’S not quite panic stations at Ajax Cape Town yet, but a win tonight against Platinum Stars at the Cape Town Stadium will certainly settle some of the nerves of the players and the technical team.
There seems to be some tension among the players and the coaching staff after a rather slow start to the season.
The new combinations haven’t really clicked as quickly as coach Maarten Stekelenburg would have wanted, as they again have struggled for consistency in their first two matches of the campaign so far.
And you have to feel for Stekelenburg, because over the last two seasons, he has had to build a team from scratch, with some stalwarts leaving and a few new faces coming in.
Last season, Ajax were in a similar position after a home draw and an away defeat, because they took too long to handle their business during the transfer window.
There is still no clarity about a few pending deals, which could have a massive impact on the team, and this has put Ajax at a disadvantage as their rivals have settled squads and have hit the ground running.
Stekelenburg has had 10 days since their last match to try and sort out the few loose ends, and get his team to play the type of fast-paced football that they have become renowned for.
They can’t afford to give their opponents the space or make the kind of mistakes that plagued them in the first two fixtures. But they are playing at home and it needs to be “pedal to the metal” for the full 90 minutes on attack and defence.
Bradley Grobler will lead the line for the Urban Warriors tonight, and you can expect a lot of running from the former Platinum Stars man against his former team.
He will have a massive job to do on attack, but Stekelenburg will also be relying on him to set the tone and defend from the front in their pressing game to try and force Stars into making mistakes and giving possession away.
The angst at Ikamva, however, is nothing compared to what’s going on at Chippa United, who are on a rather slippery slope after opting to fire their coach after only two matches in charge of the team.
The PSL rookies travel to Black Leopards on Sunday afternoon in search of their first points in the Premiership following two successive defeats against Mamelodi Sundowns (1-0) and Free State Stars (2-1).
One of the reasons given for Manqoba Mngqithi’s sacking was his conservative approach in the first two matches. But the team really seem to be struggling with the pace of the top-flight, and they also need to limit their mistakes.
Chippa conceded 14 corners in the match against Free State Stars, which tells you that they also struggled to control the midfield, and let the Stars wingers get in behind their fullbacks.
Chippa are desperately missing Roscoe Petersen, who won the Man of the Match award for SuperSport United against Orlando Pirates last weekend.
Last season, Petersen was key in Chippa keeping their shape, while also snuffing out opposition attacks.
Mfundo Shumana, one of the senior players in the team and a former Ajax star, will have to play a bigger role for Chippa in midfield on Sunday. Otherwise, it could be three losses from three starts.