Ajax has had a majority stake in Ajax Cape Town in South Africa since 1999. In the Message from Cape Town column, we focus on African Ajax every Monday. In this edition, we look ahead at the upcoming duels for the African Ajax team.
While in Amsterdam the chances of winning a 31st national title are increasing every week, in Cape Town, things are going much as can be expected with a very young team: with many ups and down. The month of March didn’t bring them closer to the top, as had been hoped. In fact, things went completely differently. Maarten Stekelenburg’s team was eliminated for the cup and has lost all three competition duels scheduled for the month. But they seem to be on the mend, since Ajax Cape Town hasn’t lost in April. On Wednesday, April 4, the Urban Warriors defeated Jomo Cosmos thanks to two goals by Khama Billiat (shown in picture above) and Alcardo van Graan. They both scored six and eight minutes before the end, respectively. Van Graan came in to substitute in the 79th minute. In the home game against Mokoka Swallows, Cape Town took a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Carelse and Manyama, but the guests fought back to tie the match at 2-2.
“We need to make sure that we take away the team’s inconsistency”, said Stekelenburg earlier this month. “We’re still playing with the same team which won five games in a row before the summer break. And we’re not playing badly. We’re just not grabbing our opportunities, and our opponents are.”
But the rest of Cape Town’s competition schedule won’t be easy: until May 19th, there are only two home matches to be played, against five away games. On Wednesday evening, Ajax plays against Bidvest Wits in Johannesburg, and on Monday, Maarten Stekelenburg had a press conference in Cape Town: “We need to be more stable in our play, and always defend our lead. The next two matches are critical for us. We very much want to get six points from them.”
“It will be tough, but we’re well prepared and the players know what’s expected of them. In our last game, we gave away a 2-0 lead and ended up at a 2-2 tie, but despite that, we’re able to take several positive points from the match. We’re confident that we can win the next two matches and that Scott, Fanteni and Allie’s availability will be a big boost for the team. Our goal is to narrow the gap between us and the top teams. With seven games to go and 21 points to divide, we need to get as many points as possible. We have a lot to play for. The top four teams will place for the MTN8 competition.”