CAPE TOWN – Home, as they always say, is where the heart is. For Mark Mayambela this sentiment is most certainly spot on as his return to the Mother City has him in the form of his life.
The much-travelled, Khayelitsha-born Ajax Cape Town midfielder has had stints at quite a few clubs over the years, but it’s only now, in his first top-flight spell with a Cape club, that he is starting to more consistently show what he is capable of.
When Ajax take on Chippa United in Port Elizabeth this afternoon (kick-off 3pm), Mayambela will again have a vital role to play if the Capetonians are to pull off a win and mount a late charge for a top eight finish.
Mayambela first came to prominence as a junior at the Old Mutual Academy in Pinelands. At the time, as he progressed, there were quite a few PSL clubs interested in the talented youngster, including Ajax, but the tricky left-footer opted to sign for Bloemfontein Celtic. After a successful spell in the Free State, it was on to Orlando Pirates, Mpumalanga Black Aces, Djurgårdens in Sweden, Chippa and SuperSport United before, finally, he made the trek back home to join Ajax.
Ever since, Mayambela has flourished under the guidance of coach Stanley Menzo. Now 29, the winger is relishing his senior role among the many talented, emerging footballers at the Cape club.
“I’m enjoying my good form and I have to say that being a senior player in the team has helped,” said Mayambela.
“I know I have to lead by example, on and off the field. It has been nice, it is a great adventure and I am always aware of my responsibility in the team.
“It is not easy, but it is something I enjoy. It is a bit strange, because at my previous clubs I was the youngster. But knowing that, and having that experience, it makes it easier as I know what I have to do.
“Mostly, though, it is just great to be able to play well and make a contribution to the success of the team.”
Ajax’s relegation fears were eased after last week’s 2-0 win over Platinum Stars. They have now accumulated 29 points, are in 10th position, and the objective now is to keep winning and secure a top-eight finish.
“The victory over Platinum was a huge relief,” said Mayambela.
“It allowed us to move clear of the teams at the bottom.
“But we shouldn’t get too carried away, the pressure is always there, and we have to make sure that we continue to do well in our remaining games. Finishing in the top eight is our aim and that is what we have to set our minds to.
“We have players who are ambitious and want to do well, so that also makes things easier for everyone.”
Chippa have recently changed coaches, so Ajax aren’t too sure of what to expect from the PE side.
Coach Dan Malesela has been placed on what the club calls “special leave”, with Mbuyiselo Sambu placed in charge of the team. It is expected that Malesela will soon be on his way out of the club.
For Menzo, though, with former Chippa players Mayambela and Erick Chipeta in the squad, he has “spies” able to give some insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.