CAPE TOWN - Football success is about more than just ability. It’s about commitment, determination and, above all, that beating organ on the left-hand side of the chest: heart.
Ajax Cape Town’s struggles this season have been well-documented. So, ahead of last week’s must-win fixture against Bloemfontein Celtic, they knew they needed to deliver something special. Another defeat would have been disastrous. No one knew this more than the Cape club’s new captain Mosa Lebusa - and, in true leadership style, he took the responsibility to remind his teammates of football’s demand for more than just ability. He got the Ajax squad together and urged the players to dig deeper, and to find the level of form and courage that had deserted them.
Lebusa’s rousing message had the desired effect as Ajax produced an inspired opening 45 minutes against Celtic - a performance described by head coach Stanley Menzo as “the best we’ve played so far this season”. There was greater attacking intent from the players, there was commitment, there was a desire to go above and beyond, there was fight and bite and, more importantly, in Lebusa’s words, there was “heart”.
Now as Ajax prepare for a tricky opening round Telkom Knockout Cup clash against Polokwane City at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday afternoon (3.30pm kickoff), Lebusa, the consistent, ever-present skipper, is looking for more of the same from his team.
“I didn’t say much - but the only thing I wanted to get through to the players was that we had to perform with heart,” said Lebusa. “We know everybody has talent, but talent is not enough We have to use our hearts and play with commitment. I told them that even if we lose, if we had given our all, it would be better."
The 2-1 win over Celtic has infused the Ajax side with a great deal more confidence and they can head to the Limpopo Province this week with a spring in their step. But Menzo, Lebusa and the entire squad are aware that one swallow doesn’t make a summer; they know that they will now have to bring some consistency to their game and deliver winning results more regularly.
And Ajax know that, in the shape of an in-form, hard-running Polokwane team on Saturday, they are certainly up against it.
“Looking ahead to Saturday’s Cup game, we know it won’t be easy, and no team likes the travel to Polokwane,” said Lebusa. “We beat Polokwane at home for our first league win of the season last month, but, with them at home, we are expecting it to be a lot more difficult.
"It’s a Cup clash and that’s always a different ball game. But, as players, we have spoken about this Cup competition, and we want to go all the way.”