Masilake Phohlongo takes on AmaZulu's Thembela Sikhakhane at the Athlone Stadium last Saturday. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Ajax Cape Town always find solutions to their problems in their famed youth academy.

It was no different when the Cape side played to a 2-2 draw with AmaZulu at the Athlone Stadium at the weekend.

Head coach Stanley Menzo was looking to add more creative thrust to the team – and he found it in 20-year-old Masilake “Scara” Phohlongo.

The introduction of bright, emerging talents from the Cape club’s youth academy is, simply put, the Ajax way.

So, with the team battling to find some offensive spark, Menzo gave Phohlongo a start against AmaZulu at the weekend.

Always rated as a footballer to watch, Phohlongo took his opportunity with an energetic performance for Ajax, netting the first goal as well.

The Cape side will be in Nelspruit on Wednesday night for a catch-up PSL fixture against SuperSport United at the Mbombela Stadium (7.30pm), and Phohlongo is looking to continue to catch the eye.

From Langa, Phohlongo has been with Ajax since the age of 10. Earlier this year he was in the SA Under-20 squad for the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in South Korea, and a few months later, he was called up by Bafana Bafana for the CHAN championships.

“I’m glad for him (Phohlongo),” said Menzo. “He can add something to the team. He deserved his shot in the team. He’s got something extra, in that he can get goals for the team.”

Coach Stanley Menzo says Ajax Cape Town will look to play the ball “a bit longer” going forward. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Ajax, though, have had to adjust their approach, if only temporarily, in a bid to bring more stability to the team.

After faltering, inconsistent performances and results this season, Menzo admits he has had to tweak things a bit. “We are trying not to lose the ball in our own half,” said Menzo.

“The idea is to play it a bit longer, to then focus on winning the second ball, and playing from there.”

For Menzo, this implies less risk and, considering Ajax’s precarious position on the PSL standings, the coach believes it’s the best policy – for now.

In addition to the rise of Phohlongo, Menzo was also chuffed with the continued improvement of striker Tashreeq Morris.

The 23-year-old from Mitchell’s Plain has been plagued by injury, which has curtailed his progress.

“I’m very pleased,” said the Ajax coach. “Tassie (Morris’ nickname) is such a dangerous player. He puts in lots of effort and he runs for 90 minutes.”


Cape Times