CAPE TOWN - Ajax Cape Town continue to leak goals, which has, in turn, impaired their inability to win and put points on the board.
On Tuesday night, the beleaguered Cape side, placed precariously near the bottom of the PSL standings, takes on fellow-strugglers Highlands Park in a league fixture at the Cape Town Stadium (7.30pm kickoff) - and, needless to say, top priority for coach Stanley Menzo is that Ajax keep a clean sheet. If they don’t concede, he says, that’s already a guaranteed point.
Menzo, a former goalkeeper for Ajax Amsterdam and the Netherlands, and a man with a wealth of knowledge and experience from his many years in the sport, emphasised, though, that he was not pointing fingers at his goalkeeper or his defence.
“A team doesn’t defend with just its goalkeeper or its defenders,” said Menzo. “It’s a team thing everyone is responsible for defending. The fact that we haven’t kept many clean sheets is a concern, but it goes both ways. We have to look at what we are doing in attack too, because that can change the dynamic of the game.
"For example, in our previous loss to Maritzburg, we had two or three chances to score before they got their goal. We never scored and the game changed The problem is that we give away too many easy goals and don’t score enough.”
Despite this, Menzo remains confident that his players can re-discover the level of form that saw them reel off a series of victories at the end of last year. He has not lost any belief - he remains as positive as ever and is certain his team is just one win away from turning things around.
“We need to find the key to start the engine again,” said the Ajax coach. "The engine was working fine last year, but now we just cannot seem to find the key. But I see lots of positives, and the players are doing many good things, both at training and in the games.
"It’s just that we have not been able to turn those good things into a win. We have to change that I believe that just one win will change the mental behaviour. The team is okay, it’s just that we have to score and we have to win.
“We’ve had a good week. We’ve had a chat about things, we had a braai to stay together, and there is a good spirit in the squad. I just hope that we can transfer that spirit into the game and can get the three points.”
Menzo, though, is fully aware that, in Highlands Park, they face tough, tricky opponents, who are just as desperate for wins and points.
“Highlands Park are a team that’s difficult to beat,” he said.
“Highlands Park play a direct style of football, so I expect they will let us have the ball and wait for their moments on the break. It will be up to us to make the game
“For both teams, though, this is an important game. If you look at the log, you will see that one or two wins can make a big difference. So that’s the motivation for both teams - winning gives you space, while losing keeps you in the environment of pressure.”
Squad news is that star teen Grant Margeman is still out, serving the second of a two-match ban, and so, too, are right-back Rheece Evans and winger Tashreeq Morris (both injured). There is also still a concern around young Bafana Bafana central defender Rivaldo Coetzee. He is nursing an injured shoulder and a final call on his availability will be made before kick off.
The other Cape side, Cape Town City, will be in action on Thursday night when they take on Platinum Stars at the Moruleng Stadium (6pm kickoff).
Wednesday: Ajax Cape Town v Highlands Park (Cape Town Stadium, 7.30pm); Bloemfontein Celtic v Kaizer Chiefs
Thursday: Mamelodi Sundowns v SuperSport United; Platinum Stars v Cape Town City (Moruleng Stadium, 6pm)