CAPE TOWN - AmaZulu head coach Cavin Johnson had nothing but contempt for the state of the ground at Athlone Stadium after his team had played to a 2-2 draw with Ajax Cape Town on Saturday night.
Johnson spent a few years working at Ajax so he certainly knows the Cape Flats football venue very well. He wasn’t very complimentary about how badly the condition of the field has deteriorated. The drought in the Mother City has played its part, but a good part of the blame should also be apportioned to the over-use of the ground in the past.
“Athlone is a shocker,” said Johnson. “I can tell you that, after inspecting the field, I put in a protest with the match officials. Initially, I thought it would perhaps hold, but it didn’t. In Johannesburg, when a field looks like this, it usually holds. But in Cape Town, it usually doesn’t, it turns into a beach. And it did turn into a beach, I just didn’t know if it was Muizenberg beach or Blouberg.”
Athlone is looking in a bad condition. There are dusty, sandy patches all over the surface, making passing football very difficult. In fact, the effect of the ground was summed up during one scoring opportunity for Ajax. Youngster Grant Margeman had a great chance to score - but, as he was about to pull the trigger, his foot got trapped in the sand, and he scuffed the shot.
Johnson was, nevertheless, happy with his team’s late fight back. They were 2-0 down before levelling in the 90th minute and then snatched a point with a goal in the dying minutes.
“We made two silly mistakes for the Ajax goals and I had to make some big decisions late in the second half,” said the AmaZulu coach. “We changed the formation to 3-2-5, throwing more strikers into their penalty area; with five up front, it worked.
"We were 2-0 down, but didn’t drop our heads, and that’s good. We’ve come from the NFD and are building a team; it’s about momentum and getting some of the players used to the PSL. But, while I have to give the team credit for fighting to come back and earn a point, I also have to use the whip to remind them of the mistakes made for Ajax’s two goals.”