Ajax Cape Town’s misery on the road continued unabated when they lost 1-0 to Bloemfontein Celtic at the Dr Molemela Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In 24 league games so far this season, the Cape side have picked up just three points away from home.
In short, this has been the cause of their pain over the last few years, and Sunday’s defeat dragged Ajax right back into the bottom two on the PSL standings.
Tactical decisions are always crucial in football. Ajax coach Muhsin Ertugral would probably have felt he had no choice but to err on the side of caution against Celtic on Sunday.
Despite his team’s superb attacking display in dismantling SuperSport United last Wednesday, their form on the road dictated circumspection.
As such, while Ertugral would have preferred his team to be offensive, as they were against SuperSport, he opted to play it tight in the opening 45 minutes in Bloemfontein.
The idea was clearly to keep things compact, play for a draw, and hope to snatch three points if something breaks on the counter.
Alas, in football, things don’t always go according to plan.
Ajax conceded a goal six minutes into the second half, when Celtic’s Ronald Pfumbidzai scored, and they were forced to loosen the shackles.
Suddenly, in contrast to the dour, conservative fare they produced in the first half, the Capetonians started to play with greater attacking purpose.
Substitute Grant Margeman entered proceedings in the 54th minute and added a lot more creativity and energy to the team.
Ajax had numerous chances to level, but it wasn’t to be. Margeman’s powerful drive was saved by Celtic goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb, Morné Nel volleyed wide, and both Mosa Lebusa and Mario Booysen headed opportunities wide.
In the end, as much as they tried, for all the pressure they piled on the opposition, the Cape side simply couldn’t find a way through.
The question that needs to be asked, though, is: How different could the result have been had Ajax been a bit more positive in the first half?