CAPE TOWN - Ajax Cape Town have based their recent improved performances on a better shape and structure to the team - and head coach Stanley Menzo sees no reason to change anything for tomorrow night’s PSL clash against Kaizer Chiefs at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban (8.15pm kickoff).
The Cape side comes off two confidence-boosting results from a week-long sojourn in Johannesburg. First up were PSL champions Wits, which ended in a hard-fought 0-0 draw, and then it was Chippa United, a match which the Capetonians won 1-0 with a superbly-taken goal from right-wing Thabo Mosadi.
Four points from two games is most certainly a major improvement, especially considering the erratic nature of Ajax’s season up to this stage. Now they head into their final fixture of 2017 - against a Chiefs side performing just as inconsistently - and Menzo is determined to do things the same way.
“With Chiefs coming up, I think the feeling is there in the team. There is fight, and we know what we have to do. As I always tell the team, you can only do the things that you can do - that is all I ask of the players. if they do that, then the results will come,” said the former Ajax Amsterdam and Netherlands goalkeeper.
As for Chiefs tomorrow, Menzo was ready for a tough challenge.
“Chiefs may be a bit inconsistent at the moment,” said the Ajax coach. “But they are a top team in the league. They have good players and we will have to be at our best. The approach will be the same as it was for the last two games. We will be organised and keep the shape. And, like the two previous games, we will try not to concede, that is always very important. In a strange way, sometimes defence is best for the attack.”
Ajax, however, suffered a major scare ahead of the Chiefs clash when influential young midfielder Grant Margeman had to be carried off the field during a training session in Parow yesterday morning. The 19-year-old who was the victim of a crunching tackle, was immediately attended to by the club’s medical staff, and sat out the rest of the training session.
“Grant was injured at training, and I don’t know if he will make it,” said Menzo. “If he doesn’t, I will have to make some choices.”
Menzo, though, said he was happy with the performance of 19-year-old right-back Sirgio Kammies and was looking for more of the same from the emerging youngster.
Meanwhile, if there’s one thing Benni McCarthy has demonstrated in his first stint as a head coach, it’s that he’s not afraid to rotate. He trusts and believes in every player in his squad. To make the Cape Town City starting team, a player has to show his worthiness at every training session if he wants to be in the running for selection.
It is because of this attitude that goalkeeper Sage Stephens has got quite a bit of game time this season. City have veteran Shu-Aib Walters as the ostensible No 1 keeper - but, while the 35-year-old was out injured, Stephens came in and was a solid and reliable performer.
City are back in action this evening when they host AmaZulu at Cape Town Stadium (8pm kickoff) - and, if the Cape side wants to continue to be among the challengers, then nothing less than victory will suffice. Mamelodi Sundowns, after three wins on the trot, have finally broken clear at the top of the PSL standings, so it’s important that City stay in touch.
Both City captain Robyn Johannes and Stephens are former AmaZulu players, and they are expecting a difficult, competitive game against the Durban team tonight.
“I’m really looking forward to this game because it feels like we haven’t played at home for so long,” said Stephens. “But preparations have been going very well and I’m also excited because the coach has shown faith in me yet again. The guys have been looking great in training, even though we come off what we consider a bad result against SuperSport (a 1-1 draw). The positive is that everyone put in 150 percent effort although the result didn’t go our way.
“Playing against my old team (AmaZulu) isn’t really on mind, I’m just focused on playing again as if I was playing against any other team in the league. I believe as a player you can’t pick games, most certainly I won’t be picking this game as anything more special than any of our other home matches.”