CAPE TOWN – Ajax Cape Town coach Stanley Menzo is hoping Toriq Losper’s hunger and desire will rub off on the rest of the team.
Losper is back in contention for selection after a six-month injury lay-off and can’t wait to get going again. Ajax host fellow-strugglers Highlands Park at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday night (7.30pm kickoff), with industrious midfielder Losper hoping to get a look-in after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Menzo has been impressed by Losper’s energy, enthusiasm and work ethic on the training ground. The coach was, in fact, tempted to play the midfielder last week (a 2-1 loss to Maritzburg United), but decided to err on the side of caution. Now, though, and especially with the Cape side still winless after eight games in 2017, perhaps it’s time for Menzo to go for broke. He needs to drag some inspiration from a squad that continues to play far below its potential. The Ajax coach couldn’t do much worse than throwing Losper in from the start.
“There’s a fire burning inside me to get back on to the field,” said Losper. “I want to do my best for the team, I want to encourage them and help to battle against this relegation fight. The important thing now is that we treat each game like a Cup final and take it from there.”
Losper is keen to get his bumpy career back on track – and he’s targeted Ajax Cape Town’s remaining games in the PSL this season to make a huge statement of intent.
The 24-year-old’s progress has been blighted by injury. Not only that, he sought greener pastures a few seasons ago by signing for Wits, but the move never turned out as he intended. He struggled for game-time at the Johannesburg club and was very happy to return to the Mother City two years ago. Losper, who came through the Cape side’s youth development ranks, was determined to prove his quality – but, just as he was settling into the Ajax side again, he was struck down by injury in September last year. Now, back training again, needless to say, Losper is itching to get back.
“I’m really hungry for the game now,” he said. “I’ve been out for about six months and it was great to get back to full training again. I’m now just working on getting back to full fitness, it’s the only thing that is lacking. But my aim is to get back into the team”
Injury is, of course, any sportsman’s worst nightmare. It’s frustrating to sit on the sidelines and be unable to contribute to the team. For Losper, making things doubly difficult was the fact that, during his injury-enforced break, Ajax struggled to make headway. They are currently fourth-from-bottom on the PSL standings – and, if they don’t find a way to start winning, they could be dragged into an embarrassing relegation scrap.
“It has been frustrating,” admitted Losper. “The team is in a bad position and it’s difficult when you know you can help, but are unable to. I want to bring my side and help the team to achieve better things. Hopefully, I’ll come into contention for selection against Highlands and I can try to do my bit.”
Meanwhile, the other local team, Cape Town City, will be in action on Thursday when they play Platinum Stars at the Moruleng Stadium (6pm kickoff). The Rustenburg side lost 2-0 to AS Tanda in a first leg Caf Confederation Cup tie in the Ivory Coast on Sunday. Their coach, Cavin Johnson, though wasn’t too concerned and was confident they could overturn the deficit in the second leg at home this coming weekend. Before that, though, Platinum have a tough league fixture against City – and, in the Cape side’s favour, is that the opposition may be distracted by their upcoming second leg against the Ivorians.
“I think we have a nice chance to come back in the second leg,” said Johnson. “AS Tanda are a good team. They like to play long balls, but they hold the ball well and they are quick. I do believe though that, in South Africa, we will be able to contain them.”