CAPE TOWN - In times of adversity, a football team needs its leaders to stand up and be counted. Ajax Cape Town have a number of experienced players in their squad, but the man who wears the captain’s armband is 23-year-old Travis Graham.
Graham is fully aware of the responsibility he carries as the beleaguered Cape side heads into Sunday's PSL fixture against Platinum Stars at the Cape Town Stadium (kick-off 3pm). Considering Ajax’s lowly log position, a scenario that could well drag them into a relegation battle if they don’t arrest the slide soon, the young skipper knows his role as leader becomes even more significant.
The industrious, combative central midfielder came through the youth development academy at the Cape club. Throughout his career, he was always the captain of junior sides, which is why it was no surprise when former Ajax coach Roger de Sa handed the player the skipper’s role at the tender age of 21. But with the tide just not turning for Ajax - they have won just one game in 2017 - it’s now time for Graham to rally his troops and drag that little bit extra from them. It’s crunch time. Sunday, victory is paramount. There is simply no room for error - Ajax cannot afford to drop points against Platinum.
“This is a huge game for us,” said Graham of Sunday's contest against the team from Rustenburg. “The players know the situation we’re in. The result against Platinum Stars will be a result of hope or a result of pressure. We need the three points.
“But I can assure you the mood is still positive. We’re not too far off a Top 8 position. The guys are determined that we can finish off the season on a high.”
But, in Platinum, Ajax are up against a formidable foe. What’s more, the Rustenburg team’s coach, Cavin Johnson, spent a few years working at Ajax, in the youth and senior structures.
"He knows the Capetonians inside out - and he will, no doubt, have a plan to negate their strengths and exploit their weaknesses.
“They (Platinum) are a good team, led by a coach who knows the Ajax system well, so you never know what their game plan will be,” added Graham.