Where to now for Ajax?

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iol spt feb19 Ajax-Stars

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A new coach, some new players, an end to the boardroom squabbbling. You would think things would improve, but Ajax still look like a team without a plan. Photo by Duif du Toit.

What now for Ajax Cape Town?

They’ve tried everything and still they find themselves, embarrassingly, second last on the PSL standings.

After the much-publicised boardroom spat, which split the directors into two opposing groups, a truce was called during the January transfer window. This was especially critical to ensure that proper decisions were made so as to ensure the team got back on track.

Agreement was the order of the day between the warring parties. A new coach was brought in – Jan Versleijen – and the squad was strengthened with the addition of Mabhuti Khenyeza, Abia Nale and Lance Davids.

With peace making a timely introduction at the club, it was to be the start of something good. The team would perform, the results would finally materialise, and the stated objective of a top eight position at the end of the season would be achievable.

Alas, as Ajax have quickly discovered, there is a big difference between theory and practice, especially in the fickle world of sport.

Tonight, Ajax are back in action when they host Bloemfontein Celtic at Athlone Stadium (kick-off 7.30pm) – and they are in an extremely hazardous situation indeed.

As things stand, the bottom three clubs on the PSL log are all on 16 points – AmaZulu, Ajax and Chippa United.

Crucially, though, the two other clubs – AmaZulu and Chippa – have got some momentum after winning over the weekend. Both clubs will have gained some much-needed confidence from those victories.

In contrast, Ajax come off a humiliating 3-0 hammering by Platinum Stars and morale is certainly at an all-time low at the Cape club.

After the Platinum defeat, Versleijen was quick to credit the opposition, admitting they deserved the win as they were, by far, the better team on the day.

“We defended poorly,” said the Dutch coach. “We failed to deal with their attacks and paid the price.

“Overall, though, it’s not only in defence, there are other areas we also need to improve upon. We will have to see if the team can respond and do better against Celtic.”

Versleijen has definitely picked up on the most glaring problem the team has faced all season – defence. A quick glance at the log will show that, of the 16 clubs in the PSL, Ajax have conceded the most goals: 30

It doesn’t matter how well Ajax attack, it doesn’t matter how entertaining their football... if errors are made at the back, a team will always be on the back foot.

When the transfer window shut at the end of January, Ajax chief executive George Comitis admitted that he had failed to land the club’s number one target – to bring central defender Clayton Daniels back to the club.

Daniels is currently at Mamelodi Sundowns, where he is out of favour and not seeing much game time.

“Clayton Daniels was the one I really wanted to sign,” said Comitis at the time. “We wanted to bring him back desperately, but the deal with Sundowns was just too difficult.”

When Versleijen took over, he installed Thulani Hlatswayo and Thato Mokeke as his central defensive pairing.

Nazeer Allie, the coach said, had just returned from injury and was not, as yet, fully fit.

Surely, now, with the team still struggling in defence, it’s time to start with Allie again.

PSL fixtures

Today: Sundowns v Golden Arrows; Ajax CT v Bloemfontein Celtic (Athlone, 7.30pm).

Tomorrow: FS Stars v Maritzburg; U Pretoria v Swallows; Pirates v Platinum Stars; Black Leopards v Kaizer Chiefs; AmaZulu v SuperSport; Bidvest Wits v Chippa

Nedbank Cup last 32

Friday: Ajax CT v Mamelodi Sundowns

Saturday: Maluti College v Pirates; United FC v Chippa Utd; SuperSport Utd v Swallows; U Pretoria v Maritzburg Utd; Bidvest Wits v Kaizer Chiefs; Vardos FC v Golden Arrows

Sunday: Island v Polokwane; FS Stars v Witbank Spurs; Dynamos v Plat Stars; Bloem Celtic v Milano; Mbombela v Vasco; Magesi v J Cosmos - Cape Argus


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