CAPE TOWN - The PSL’s transfer window shuts at midnight on Thursday and the Mother City’s two clubs - Cape Town City and Ajax Cape Town - have a few issues to ponder.
In football, there isn’t a coach that’s fully satisfied with his squad and, during the week, both City’s Benni McCarthy and Ajax’s Stanley Menzo will probably have been in urgent meetings and discussions with the men who write the cheques.
With just a month of the season completed, the clubs find themselves in contrasting situations. City are in fine fettle, while Ajax are struggling. The latter, most certainly, needs to find a solution to the malaise that has been ailing the club in recent seasons.
Let’s look at some of the matters City and Ajax have to negotiate before the window closes:
Cape Town City
Lebogang Manyama, of course, is the big topic of conversation. The City captain and star man, last season’s Footballer of the Year, is in demand, both locally and overseas. It does look likely that Manyama will be on his way: if it is to a local club, it will happen today; if not, then certainly next week because the transfer deadline in Turkey closes a week later than the PSL.
City boss John Comitis initially rejected an offer from a Turkish club because he believed it was only half of what the player is worth. But he admits that he is re-visiting his stance - he is thinking about what is best for the player, rather than the club. With Manyama currently in Cape Verde with Bafana Bafana, negotiation is a bit of a nightmare because Comitis particularly wants to know what personal package they are offering the player. If Manyama is happy with the terms, Comitis may just do the deal.
Comitis also confirmed that Mamelodi Sundowns have made an inquiry about both Manyama and City’s top-class left-wing Aubrey Ngoma. The club owner gave them the numbers, the amount he wants, but the big-spending Pretoria club has not, as yet, made a concrete offer. If the offer is to come, it will be some time on Thursday. Remember that last season City sold Aubrey Modiba to SuperSport United just before the midnight close of the window.
As far as incoming players for City, everything depends on what happens with Manyama. If, as expected, he moves on, Comitis intends to bring in one or two African players who have European experience to plug the hole left by Manyama’s absence. The two he has in mind are both free agents, which means he can bring them in after the close of the window; he doesn’t have to rush.
Ajax Cape Town
The uncertainty around former captain Travis Graham needs to be resolved. The 24-year-old midfielder has made no secret of his ambition to move on and is not in head coach Stanley Menzo’s plans at the moment. But, with the closing of the window, a decision has to be made about the future of Graham. Sell him on, or mend the bridges and get him back playing again?
Ajax aren’t saying much, but indications are they will add to the squad before the close tonight. Menzo has made no secret that he believes there are two or three areas in the team where Ajax can be stronger. One of those, and it’s the one uppermost in the coach’s thoughts, is that the team lacks a midfield organiser, a position the former Ajax Amsterdam and Netherlands goalkeeper refers to as “a number six”. It’s a player that makes the team tick and acts as the cog around which everything revolves. So far, Ajax have struggled to find a player to match what Menzo wants.
The unfortunate situation with Rivaldo Coetzee has, then, probably been a blessing in disguise for Ajax. With his transfer to Scottish champions Glasgow Celtic having collapsed because of a failed medical, the Cape side will rehabilitate the 20-year-old. He should be available later in the season and Ajax don’t have to turn to the transfer market for reinforcements.
Devastated for Riva this was a great opportunity for him🙏🏾🙌🏾...hope something comes up soon he's a top player and gent⚽️🙌🏾🙏🏾👊🏽
Once Coetzee is fit and ready again, it means that central defence is secure for the next few months, especially with Roscoe Pietersen, Isaac Nhlapo, Erick Chipeta and new captain Mosa Lebusa able to cover the position.
Ajax can then, during the January window, or the beginning of the next season, attempt to land Coetzee his much dreamed-of overseas move.
He is still only 20 and has time on his side. Football, like life, is all about setbacks and disappointments, it’s how a player responds to adversity that is the true test of his character.