Abel Mabaso of Ajax Cape Town during the Absa Premiership 2015/16 football match between Ajax Cape Town and Mamelodi Sundowns at Athlone Stadium, Cape Town on 27 April 2016 ©Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Cape Town - Abel Mabaso has been a fantastic addition to the Ajax Cape Town squad this season. The 24-year-old defender has stepped up whenever needed, and his performances have been solid and consistent.

The good news for the Cape side is that Mabaso will still be around next season. The enterprising and articulate footballer is on a two-year loan from Mamelodi Sundowns.

Ajax are in action tomorrow when they face Bloemfontein Celtic in a PSL fixture at Dr Molemela Stadium in the Free State (kickoff 3pm), and Mabaso is likely to continue filling in at right-back if Abbubaker Mobara has not recovered from injury.

Mabaso wasn’t getting much game time at star-studded Sundowns, which is why he was sent on loan to Ajax. When he arrived in the Mother City, it was as back-up to the late Cecil Lolo.

After Lolo’s passing, he got his opportunity but, because Ajax coach Roger de Sa has always pined for a more robust, imposing centre-back, the arrival of Ghanaian Lawrence Lartey saw Mabaso demoted again.

With Lartey partnering Rivaldo Coetzee in the central defence, Mobara was shifted to right-back, with Mabaso back on the bench.Recently, though, with Lartey, and now Mobara, injured, Mabaso has been playing regularly again.

But it’s a scenario that will have De Sa beaming. A major criticism of Ajax squads in the past is that they lacked depth, and never had quality footballers in reserve. With someone as capable as Mabaso in the squad, the Urban Warriors most certainly have the necessary depth now.

“This season has been great,” he said. “And, for that, I would like to thank everyone involved at Ajax, the management, the staff and my teammates. They’ve showed me appreciation and I’ve tried to repay that by doing my best whenever getting an opportunity to play.

“Going into the next season, the second of my two-year loan period, I just want to build on the foundation that I set. I want to add more value to the club, carry on doing my best, and constantly look at improving my game and contributing to the success of the team.”

This past Wednesday, Ajax turned in a top-class performance in holding PSL log leaders Sundowns to a goalless draw in Athlone. Mabaso was in at right-back for Mobara, and he was excellent against his former teammates.

“Look, for me, the approach is always the same,” said Mabaso. “The fact that it was against my ex-team didn’t make that much of a difference. The attitude doesn’t change. I thought we played well against Sundowns, we controlled the tempo and it was motivating to see how well we played, that we were able to dictate terms against the log leaders.

“But we obviously need to perform like that more consistently. I think if Ajax can play like that more regularly, they will surely be among the challengers for the league title.”

With Celtic ahead tomorrow, Mabaso is ready for anything. In his situation, it’s never certain that he will play, but he’s ready and able when given the call.

“Celtic are a good team and they have great home support,” he said. “The atmosphere is always fantastic when playing them and it certainly won’t be easy.

“But our focus is just to maintain the level of performance we put in against Sundowns. We have to build on that as we look to finish in a top-eight position.”

Weekend Argus