Ajax, De Sa ‘marriage made in heaven’

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iol spt feb21 De Sa Gallo Images Former Orlando Pirates coach Roger De Sa was unveiled as the new coach of Ajax Cape Town. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Ajax Cape Town boss Ari Efstathiou says the club will not stand in the way of newly-appointed coach Roger de Sa if he wants to help out Carlos Queiroz at the Fifa World Cup in June.

De Sa was appointed on a two-and-a-half-year deal yesterday as the Urban Warriors head coach after quitting Orlando Pirates last month. The former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper takes over from caretaker coach Ian Taylor, who was in charge of Ajax after Muhsin Ertugral quit shortly after the Christmas break.

But De Sa is set to go to football’s showpiece event in Brazil as a goalkeeper coach to assist Queiroz’s Iran.

When asked if a trip to the World Cup in the off-season is still on the cards, the 49-year-old De Sa responded with a smile: “Nothing is impossible in football.”

Efstathiou said De Sa is free to go to the World Cup if he wants to, as long as it doesn’t affect the team’s pre-season preparations.

“We will not stand in Roger’s way if he wants to go to the World Cup, as long as it doesn’t affect our preparations negatively,” the Ajax executive director said yesterday.

“I think Roger going to the World Cup could benefit us as well, because I believe it’s going to be a great experience for him.”

De Sa said at his unveiling at Ikamva yesterday: “It’s great to be here, and I see a few nice familiar faces. You thought you got rid of me, but I’m back!” De Sa chirped, after spending two seasons at Santos in the mid-2000s. “This is a fantastic opportunity and I would like to thank Ari and the club, and the way they have gone about this was really professional. To work for a club like Ajax is great, and the link with Amsterdam makes it fantastic.

“To work with the youth is my passion, and it’s maybe a bit of a re-building phase at Ajax at the moment, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

When De Sa said “youth is my passion” he certainly had his new bosses smiling from ear to ear. Especially because that seems to be Ajax’s new direction under the new regime, with a greater emphasis on promoting youth players who can perform as the same level as expensive signings.

De Sa has a pedigree in getting the best out of youngsters, and Efstathiou seems to think their marriage is a match made in heaven. “We believe he fits into our thinking and long-term plan. We want to be competing for the league title in 2016,” Efstathiou said. “Roger is happy with the way we think, because we are planning to make a greater effort in making the academy more productive. And, obviously, with his experience in the PSL and what he has done, we feel that Ajax can reach new heights.”

Despite guiding Pirates to the final of the CAF Champions League and losing in a couple of domestic cup finals, De Sa was under constant pressure to emulate his predecessors who won a plethora of titles following a bit of drought.

However, De Sa says he feels the same pressure to do well at Ajax as he did at the Buccaneers. “Obviously there is a lot of razzmatazz around it (coaching Pirates). But to me it’s the same. I want to win every game I’m involved in. The main pressure comes from myself.” - The Star



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