There was a time when this side used to fear going up north. For most of the past few years it has hardly been worth checking the score when AjaxCT were heading inland. Game after game, capitulation after capitulation and defeat after defeat. It is true the journey is long and tiring, and the altitude drains the air from the lungs of players used to training at sea level. Despite this, we have to find a way of picking up points away from Cape Town if we are going to be competitive in the PSL. There has almost been a feeling that it is just too difficult to win games regularly in the north and to over rely on our form at home. Then along came Stanley Menzo.
On his very first interview ahead of the trip to Free State Stars he had this to say: “Everyone is saying to me that we never win at Free State. But why? This is something we can overcome. Maybe it is good for a fresh vision from someone like me who has never been there before.” Four away games later and we have picked up seven points and averaged two goals per game. It is an impressive turn around in our fortunes on the road. Have we found a coach that believes we can finally compete away from Cape Town?
It should be said that he has had a fairly easy run so far, with the four sides he has faced in away games being positioned in the bottom five places of the log. The fixture computer has given us all the tough trips in the second half of the season. But, we feel better placed to tackle them now. It is not just the points he has picked, but the fearless attacking style he has played. At both Platinum Stars and again on Saturday in Bloemfontein the side has raced into a three goal lead. An unthinkable situation under the previous coaching regime.
If we want to be harsh we could say he actually should have won all four games given the weakness of the opposition. The midweek defeat to Highlands Park was bitterly disappointing, as a real opportunity to put daylight between ourselves and the drop zone went begging. It took a freak goal to win it, but it was not a good performance by all accounts. Fortunately the side saved the best of themselves for Saturday nights televised encounter in Bloemfontein.
Three goals of excellent quality and almost a goal of the season contender from Ndiviwe Mdabuka. There was so much to admire about the attacking combination of Margeman and Mayambela for the first goal. A superb run by Mosadi and excellent finish from Prince for the second. Finally Mosadi scored himself with a lovely finish. The game was dead by then and he was sent clean through, but how often do we see PSL strikers lose their composure and send such chances high into the stands? This was a cool finish to watch and enjoy over and over again.
Once again the team was set up excellently, attacking and defending as a unit. The Supersport commentary team could barely believe what they were seeing when early in the game Mark Mayambela raced back to defend and pulled off an inch-perfect tackle to deny a clear goal scoring opportunity in his own box. Sadly he could not repeat the heroics in the second half and conceded a penalty for a clumsy challenge that was much more typical of an attacking player in his own box. Musa Nyatama never looked comfortable with the responsibility of taking the kick and it was no surprise to see him miss the target. Jody February won the mind games with his movement on the line as the Celtic man seemed to take an age to run up and strike the ball.
This all leaves us in a very pleasing position as the Christmas break approaches. If we can win our final home game this week, we will finish what has felt like an awful few months within touching distance of the top half of the log. Remember the despair just a few weeks ago when that 93rd minute winner for Maritzburg condemned us to defeat at home again and left us bottom of the log? How quickly things have changed. Right now we could do without the break because the fun is back in the football, and we cannot wait for the next game to come around.