Ajax Cape Town defender Rivaldo Coetzee has gone absent without leave as the club begins their pre-season training. Photo: BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – Ajax Cape Town head coach Stanley Menzo is continuing with his preparations for the new PSL season, despite the ongoing absence of star central defender Rivaldo Coetzee.

Coetzee has not returned to the club for pre-season training.

Menzo admitted this week that he was disappointed with the player’s lack of professionalism.

“It’s something we know about (Coetzee’s absence),” said Menzo. “But it’s something we have to manage. It’s how it goes in football. It’s not good for everybody involved, the club and the player.

“Look, sometimes in life you have to make choices,” added Menzo about Coetzee. “You just have to hope that it doesn’t affect your career in the future.”

Both Ajax and Coetzee refuse to reveal the exact nature of the dispute, but speculation is that the talented Bafana Bafana defender either wants a move away from the Cape club or feels that the club should remunerate him commensurate to his standing and importance.

Coetzee was last season named as Ajax’s Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season.

The 20-year-old from Kakamas in the Northern Cape is in demand and there have been offers from the big-spending clubs in the PSL. So far, though, everybody has reportedly been scared off by the asking price for the defender.

While it’s difficult to have sympathy for Coetzee because of his decision to go absent without leave, it’s just as easy to understand where he is coming from. He came through the Ajax youth academy with players like Keagan Dolly and Abbubaker Mobara - and look where they are now.

Dolly’s transfer to Mamelodi Sundowns resulted in a PSL title and success in the African Champions League. Today, he is at Montpellier in France’s Ligue 1. 

Mobara left to join Orlando Pirates and, on Monday night, he was named as the Nedbank Player of the Tournament. Both of them furthered their careers, on-field and financially, while Coetzee probably feels that he is standing still at Ajax.

But, whatever side of the fence you’re on, the situation is not ideal for the club, the player, the coach or the rest of the squad. A solution has to be found quickly. The new season is not too far off and surely Menzo and the players can’t be preparing under such a cloud of uncertainty around one of the team’s influential players.

[email protected]

Cape Times