After several weeks without a game they have suddenly come along at a rapid pace. This is the crazy way the PSL rolls. Although those first two games produced just one point we were left to reflect on a decent away result and a good performance against one of the big PSL sides. It was something to build on. In contrast just one point from the next two games is massively disappointing, especially as they were both played here in Cape Town.
Much of the fallout from what is now officially a poor start to the season will focus on the Cape Derby. However, it was Tuesday night’s game at home to Polokwane that really set the tone for a bad week. I sometimes wonder if RDS instructs his sides to go for all-out attack in the first 15 minutes and then sit back for the remainder of the game and protect whatever score has been achieved. It’s a pattern we are starting to see over and over. Sadly we are still seeing those tragic lapses of concentration over and over again. It was captain Travis Graham again on Tuesday when his wild hack completely missed an innocuous ball into the edge of the penalty box. The ball ran through to Puleng Tlolane for a clear chance on goal. Roscoe Pietersen took one for the team and brought him down before he could finish. The resulting penalty cancelled out Nathan Paulse’s early goal and an already cautious approach to the game became a desperate defensive rearguard.
RDS was forced into a substitution at half-time, as Thabo Mosadi was forced off with a hamstring injury. Mosadi who rarely ever missed a game for University of Pretoria has now been subbed through injury in two of his first three games in Cape Town. Unlucky for RDS, but with a 1-0 lead he chose to use Ndiviwe Mdabuka as the replacement rather than Mark Mayambela. A holding midfielder instead of the more like for like attacking option that the crowd were anticipating. This cautious mentality is not entertaining the supporters.
It all left the AjaxCT support feeling flat in the run up to the hugely hyped up Cape Derby on Friday. In games such as this we often follow the hype and forget to think rationally about what to expect. The new franchise were clearly the favourites having parachuted in the core of the Mpumalanga Black Aces team that finished fourth last season. So it proved on the night when they looked the most effective team in all areas of the pitch. Credit to RDS for changing his formation and going with three at the back in order to get more men up front. Playing with both Paulse and Lupeta however just seemed to encourage more and more long balls, which were meat and drink to the City defenders. Sadly the winning goal came again from a lapse of concentration, with Lebusa caught ball watching at the back post. There were no such gifts for Ajax from the City defenders, even though Eric Tinkler was not happy with their overall performance.
The Derby seems to have been well received by the football watching public around the country, with many favourable comparisons made to the Soweto Derby, which seems to produce endlessly boring stalemates. The 10,000 crowd also indicates that this fixture has captured the imagination of Cape football fans. I am not sure why both coaches felt they had to be critical of the turnout after the game. With Cape Town City only ever having played three previous games in the city there has hardly been any time for a true rivalry to form. It should not be forgotten that both sides played their previous fixtures in this stadium in front of barely 1,000 people, so let’s just wait and see how much of a revolution this really is. Will the same fans come back and watch later in the season when the likes of Baroka and Free State Stars are in town?
Putting aside the well documented morals of how they were formed, the presence of Cape Town City has forced Ajax to raise their game on and off the pitch. We see a team now featuring newly signed established PSL players and a communications team that is going out of their way to capture fans imagination with live Facebook streams and press conferences. It is good to see. The main area where we have yet to up our game in the coach. This season’s first rumblings of “Roger Out” were heard in the stands on Friday night and have continued on social media throughout the weekend. There is a feeling that we have a more attacking squad than we have seen for some years, but we have a coach whose cautious mind set is not getting the best out of it. He seems to have sucked the attacking life out of Erwin Isaacs who looks a pale shadow of the man that scored so many PSL goals earlier in his career. Despite this, Isaacs seems to be guaranteed a place in the side, whereas Toriq Losper, who is a constant threat to the opposition, is regularly subbed or dropped from the side. Whatever we think about the origins of our neighbouring franchise they have a coach that knows how to attack and protect a lead and is using his strong squad to the best of their ability. We need our coach to respond in kind and not only attack the opposition when we are already behind and chasing the game.