Cape Town - Roger de Sa has a definite idea of what he needs to do to breathe new life into an Ajax Cape Town squad that has badly under-performed over the past few years.
The Ajax coach, who took over towards the end of last season, has had time to adapt and ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of the club.
Now, heading into the new Premier Soccer League (PSL) campaign this weekend, De Sa has formulated the approach he wants to adopt. He admits that, while he loves working with the phenomenal young talent at the club, the squad still lacks that vital something extra.
Ajax open the season with an away fixture against AmaZulu in Durban on Sunday afternoon (3pm) - and De Sa wants nothing less than a positive start from his players.
It’s a fixture that should give De Sa more valuable information about the readiness of his squad for what should be yet another highly competitive season.
Both he and the club’s chief executive, Ari Efstathiou, agree they need to bring in another one or two new players before the close of the transfer window at the end of the month.
De Sa emphasised what he is looking for: “I’m looking for characters. That’s what we’re lacking, a little charisma, someone to bring some toughness and experience to this young team. Someone who can be influential in the change-room and on the field.”
Ajax have lost quite a few of last season’s squad, including Toriq Losper, Andre Petim, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Telinho, Darren Smith, Ndumiso Vezi, Cole Alexander, Koen van de Laak and Ritus Krjauklis.
New players this season include Moroccan-American Noah Sadaoui, James Mofokeng, Malawian Robin Ngalande, Phathizwe Sacolo, Zimbabwean Milton Ncube and two youngsters promoted from the youth academy - Ziyaad “Ziggy” Eksteen and Olwethu Nguye.
Eksteen linked up with the PSL squad during a pre-season training camp. He was outstanding and De Sa decided to draft the 18-year-old into his squad. Nguye is highly rated and captained the Ajax under-19 side to victory at this year’s Metropolitan Premier Cup.
“Ncube is a Zimbabwean international who was spotted by our scouts at the CHAN tournament,” said De Sa. “Left-back, left wing, he is an exciting player, and I’m sure he’ll fit right into the Ajax system.
“Mofokeng was previously with Platinum Stars, but arrived here for a trial. He’s a young defender, who can play across the back four. He has a good pedigree.
“Ngalande is a Malawian international. The two of us go back quite a bit. I signed him at Wits a few years ago, but never got to work with him. Now, finally we’re together. I think in the near future he’ll be a star.
“Sacolo also has a bit of a history with me, I got him as a youngster at Wits before he left for the United States and ended up in Sweden. I’ve now managed to bring him back. He’s a winger, a good young player.
“Sadaoui is a Moroccan who went to live in the USA as a youngster. He has a great attitude, has played for Macabbi Haifa in Israel, and I’m sure he will be another exciting player.”
De Sa admits that all the squad changes make this season a big challenge, but he’s looking forward to furthering his philosophy at the club.
“I have a simple outlook on the sport, I try to win every game. There is no other way as a sportsman, I want to win. But it’s also crucial that the team plays an attacking brand of football. With the youngsters we have, we can’t go out there and play boring football.
“Yes, there has been a lot of player movement and that instability is not good for the club. But I am working on creating a strong core for the team, which will serve as a platform for our plans this season.”