Ajax’s woes continue
Another indifferent performance has compounded the current Ajax Cape Town crisis.
Yesterday, the Cape side lost 1-0 to Black Leopards at the Cape Town Stadium but, to be brutally honest, it was no less than they deserved for an afternoon of lethargic, uninspiring football.
While Ajax may have dominated possession, the manner in which they went about attempting to convert scoring opportunities into goals was, at times, amusing, but, more than often, just downright, dreadfully amateur.
The one thing most evident about the Capetonians’ play is a complete lack of confidence. Nobody in the team is prepared to take responsibility and, at the moment, they look a rudderless bunch rather than a team with any purpose.
In essence, Ajax did just about everything wrong. Their crossing of the ball was abject, many players struggled with their first touch and the usual smooth rhythm of their passing game was absent.
As a team and as individuals, they lacked decisiveness in and around the Leopards penalty area.
Whenever there was a good move or a possibility of a goal, it would break down because of a stray pass, an unnecessary delay, a hesitation, or a lack of composure.
Opportunities were badly fluffed and, when they were awarded a penalty, they even managed to mess this up as well – in the most incompetent way, too.
Lebogang Manyama was the man tasked with taking the penalty and he proceeded to, innocuously, pass the ball back straight into the hands of Leopards goalkeeper Azwindini Maphaha.
For Ajax, as a PSL club, the attempt wasn’t only embarrassing, it was painful. This is professional football, man ... not some Sunday afternoon kick-about in the street.
Leopards had come to the Mother City with a simple game plan. They were compact and organised and always looking to catch Ajax on the break.
In the first minute of the second half, they nearly took the lead, but David Zulu’s shot hit the upright.
But, 10 minutes from full time, another shoddy defensive error saw the Limpopo Province side snatch the winning goal.
Substitute Aidan Jenniker’s poor back-header allowed Leopards’ Michael Nkambule to put striker Joshua Obaje in the clear, and the Nigerian made no mistake.
This week, though, could turn out to be crucial for Ajax.
Surely now it’s time to bring more stability to the club – and the one way this can be done is to find the time to make a decision on the vacant head coach position.
Dutch coach Jan Pruijn is the interim coach, but there’s no doubt that there is a veil of uncertainty at the club.
And, perhaps, this is why there is such a definite absence of confidence in the team’s play and the players’ on-field body language.
For months, Ajax have denied that the constant off-field boardroom disputes have any bearing on what happens on the field of play.
And, for months, because they’ve had their heads buried in the sand, things have gone from bad to worse.
And this is where Ajax, a club with ambition, with the best youth development system in the country, now finds itself.
Against the University of Pretoria, at home – lose 5-1. Against Leopards, at home yesterday – lose 1-0.
The old adage suggests that the rot starts from the top and until Ajax find a way to settle the disputes that rage unchecked in the boardroom, the current status quo at the club will continue.
Occasionally, things may settle and look as if it is on track, but, as we have now witnessed, it’s only temporary ... and then it all falls apart again.