CAPE TOWN - After crashing out of the Telkom Knockout at the weekend, Ajax Cape Town now head for Rustenburg for a reunion with former coach, Roger de Sa.
De Sa is now in charge of Platinum Stars and the two clubs meet in a PSL fixture at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Wednesday (7.30pm kickoff). For Ajax, in hindsight, they will probably feel that there is a silver lining in the penalty shoot-out Cup loss to Polokwane City at the weekend. Now the Cape side can turn their attention fully to the league, where they need the points a lot more, especially considering that, again, they haven’t had the best of starts to the season.
Ajax’s inconsistency and inability to win on the road continued apace in Polokwane. But there’s no time to dwell on the defeat because the next road trip is already upon the team - and the need to win away from home remains as desperate as ever.
Wednesday’s game has been spiced by the fact that Ajax will meet up with former coach De Sa, while the Urban Warriors' recent defensive signing, Isaac Nhlapo, comes up against Platinum, his ex-team.
De Sa was a touch unfortunate during his stint at Ajax. He inspired the Cape side to two Cup finals - one defeat, one victory - and he gave quite a few academy graduates their start in PSL football. But this is a sport in which there is no place for sentiment - and, when things went awry last year, De Sa was forced to quit. He has resurfaced at Platinum and has quickly worked to change the mentality at the struggling Rustenburg club.
Already there is improvement and Platinum even won through to the quarter-finals of the Telkom Knockout against Maritzburg United on Friday night. And, while Ajax may be struggling, they can certainly expect no favours from De Sa and Platinum.
Central defender Nhlapo has made a superb start to his Ajax career. Club coach, Stanley Menzo, is a big fan of the no-nonsense, hard-tackling player - and has even said “I wouldn’t like to play against Isaac”. The defender was struggling with a slight injury and rested for the weekend’s Cup match. Menzo admitted he had one eye on the Platinum game, which is why Nhlapo was given a break.
The 27-year-old will return to the Ajax starting team on Wednesday, and is keen to get going against his former club.
“I’ve started well at Ajax, I’m settled, and have been working hard,” said Nhlapo. “It’s just the injuries that have been a problem. But Platinum are my former team, and I’m looking forward to playing against them.”
This week’s PSL fixtures:
Tuesday: Polokwane City v Kaizer Chiefs; SuperSport United v Golden Arrows; Bloemfontein Celtic v Maritzburg United.
Wednesday: Cape Town City v Free State Stars (Athlone Stadium, 7.30pm); Platinum Stars v Ajax Cape Town (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, 7.30pm); AmaZulu v Baroka FC; Orlando Pirates v Mamelodi Sundowns; Bidvest Wits v Chippa United