CAPE TOWN - Mario Booysen returned to the Mother City this season, as part of the deal that saw Rivaldo Coetzee sign for Mamelodi Sundowns, and he has brought greater defensive stability to the Ajax Cape Town team. But, despite Booysen’s considerable presence, the Cape side is still conceding far too many unnecessary goals.
The 29-year-old Booysen says this is an aspect that has to be eliminated from their game - and, once they achieve that, he has no doubt the Urban Warriors will quickly turn things around. Ajax will now be looking to do just that when they tackle SuperSport United in a PSL fixture at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Wednesday night (7.30pm kickoff).
Originally from Bonteheuwel, Booysen started his professional career with Ajax before going on to play for SuperSport, Bloemfontein Celtic, Maritzburg United and Mamelodi Sundowns. Back home now, he is confident the Capetonians aren’t too far away from a turnaround in form.
“If you look at it overall, in our games, teams haven’t really worked hard for their goals,” said Booysen. “It’s soft goals we’ve been conceding. But we have to take it and learn from it.
"There is still a lot to play for. We have enough quality and the team is starting to gel really nicely. Based on the performance against AmaZulu at the weekend (a 2-2 draw), we were the better team; we just need to stop conceding such soft goals. Personally, from a defender’s point of view, it’s not nice.”
In reflecting on Wednesday's challenge against SuperSport, Booysen revealed some of the issues he believed needed to be attended to if Ajax are to become the team he knows they can be.
“We have to build on that performance against AmaZulu, especially the second half, and we have to move on from there,” he said. “I believe we are on the right track. The team has done well, the problem has been unnecessary lapses in concentration. It’s especially the small things in our game that we need to sort out, like communicating and organising quicker. If we get this right, it will help us to grow into an even better team.”
The big question, of course, is how vulnerable are SuperSport? The Pretoria club has just come off a hugely disappointing defeat to TP Mazembe in the Caf Confederation Cup final. Making the pain even worse will be the fact that they couldn’t break down the Democratic Republic of Congo side in Atteridgeville on Saturday.
With an away goal in the bag, SuperSport would have felt they had the edge, but football doesn’t work that way. In the end, it was goalless - and the South Africans were left to rue a missed opportunity.
Mentally, as they now head into a tricky league encounter against a much-improved Ajax side, SuperSport will definitely be feeling the effects of the Mazembe defeat. Because of this, Booysen believes this is the time to take advantage.
“SuperSport will be switching their focus to the league, but the loss in the Cup final will still hurt,” said Booysen. “As a footballer, nobody likes to lose in a final. They will be bruised and thinking about the defeat. They will be looking to come out against us to make it right. They are behind in the league and will be looking to get higher up the table."