CAPE TOWN – The availability of Grant Margeman is a major boost for Ajax Cape Town as they look to continue their winning momentum against Baroka FC at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane this afternoon (3pm).
After a stuttering start to the new campaign, Ajax finally got their first win of the season when they defeated Polokwane City at the Cape Town Stadium last week.
While the points were in the bag, the performance wasn’t all that inspiring - and head coach Stanley Menzo will be demanding an improved showing from his team, especially on attack.
For this purpose, Margeman’s return is crucial. The 19-year-old schemer from Bonteheuwel missed the last game with a slight niggle.
While Menzo is delighted that the talented teenaged midfielder is available, he admitted that he would, nevertheless, have to tread cautiously in how he manages the youngster’s game time. Margeman has played a lot of football over the last year.
“It’s a long season and we have to take care of him. He did well in the PSL last season and was very active in the SA U20 national team,” said the Ajax coach.
While Margeman is back, the Cape side will have to do without striker Prince Nxumalo and winger innocent Nemukondeni (both out injured).
“Last week’s victory over Polokwane gave us the feeling that we can win,” said Menzo. “It’s still early, only four games gone, but there is a good balance. There are things to work on, we need to find a few switches and a way of playing. Importantly, we have to try to keep winning, to take points.”
The former Ajax Amsterdam and Netherlands goalkeeper said he was expecting a tough, competitive outing in Polokwane today.
“Baroka will be a tough match,” he said. “They go for 90 minutes and they are everywhere on the field. The fact that they are not structured is what makes them so dangerous.
“We have to make sure that we play our own game, that we keep possession longer, and that we don’t play their game. We have to fight when we have to fight, and we have to play when we have to play.”
Menzo had a clear idea of the message he would be sending to his players.
“It was important to get last week’s win (against Polokwane) as it gave the team more air, more belief. The whole week at training the attitude has been more positive and that is what you get when a team wins.
“But we are not there yet, we still need to improve a lot. But, by winning, we will build confidence. We have seen, as with Baroka (currently second on the PSL log), that when a team gets two or three wins on the trot, it lifts everything.
“And that is what we will be trying to do, to put together a few wins in a row as it is great for confidence and belief.”
While, in recent times, there has been a big question mark around the leadership in the Ajax squad, Menzo believes this is changing.
“We have identified leaders in the squad and we have encouraged them to take responsibility,” he said.
“It’s important that they just be the personalities that they are. A leader is not always the player who yells the loudest, rather it’s the person who quietly encourages his teammates and is a player others look up to.”
Mosa Lebusa is the Ajax club captain, Mario Booysen has captained the Bafana Bafana Chan squad, Tercius Malope skippered the SA national U20 squad, and goalkeeper Brandon Petersen and defender Roscoe Pietersen have also led the team in the past.