Grant Margeman avoids a tackle in the match against Free State Stars. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN - Grant Margeman’s absence is a major blow for Ajax Cape Town as they prepare to take on Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 8.15pm). The star SA U20 midfielder is serving a two-match ban after being sent off in the Cape side’s previous fixture.

Ajax coach Stanley Menzo admitted he was still upset at the manner in which the youngster was red-carded. In the draw with Free State Stars, Margeman, who had just returned from international duty with the SA U20s in Zambia, succumbed to fatigue and injury. Because of the hamstring strain he was carrying, he wasn’t able to walk off the field quickly. But the match official saw it fit to hand Margeman a second yellow card for time-wasting, booking the player for walking off the pitch too slowly. It was a silly, bizarre decision, to say the least. Hence, Menzo’s unhappiness

A team has to take the good with the bad. While Ajax will miss the talented young midfielder, it remains a team game and those stepping in have to do the job.

“Grant is a big loss to the team,” said Ajax captain Travis Graham. “He has been on a high because of his form for the SA U20s and he was done well for us. He was scoring goals and his confidence was rubbing off on the rest of the team.

“But we are a team and whoever takes his place will have to come in and fill his shoes. It’s good to have such healthy competition within the squad. Everybody is fighting for a position and I’m sure that, when Grant comes back, he knows he will have to fight to get back into the team.”

With Margeman out, it’s likely that the central midfield trio will be Graham, Ndiviwe Mdabuka and Zambian Rodrick Kabwe. But, as Menzo joked at the club’s press conference, it’s not that cut and dried.

“Hey, I don’t know,” said the Ajax coach. “Sometimes I go to bed and dream something, and I change my mind about team selection. So we will see.”

With Ajax in 12th position on the PSL standings, and still not clear of the danger zone, Graham admits the three points on offer are vital.

“I think everybody in the squad realises the importance of the three points against Maritzburg,” he said. “The way the log is structured in the middle and at the bottom, one or two wins will see a team jump up the table. So the players know what’s at stake. We want to try to finish the season as high as possible.

“But there is a positive mood in the squad. We know we are not where we should be in the league, and that there are quite a few games where we should have got better results. The most important thing is that we need to learn to kill off games. 

"We have to be able to adjust to different match situations. If there is a time when we need to slow the game down, then we have to do so. Essentially, we have to start to control games a lot better - and it’s something we’ve been working on.”

PSL fixtures:

Saturday: SuperSport United v Baroka FC; Golden Arrows v Highlands Park; Free State Stars v Orlando Pirates; Wits v Platinum Stars; Kaizer Chiefs v Mamelodi Sundowns; Maritzburg Utd v Ajax Cape Town (Harry Gwala Stadium, 8.15pm)

Sunday: Polokwane City v Bloemfontein Celtic

Monday: Cape Town City v Chippa United (Athlone Stadium, 7.30pm)

Weekend Argus