On Saturday, the embattled Cape side has an opportunity to spark a turnaround in fortunes when they host Maritzburg United at the Cape Town Stadium. The other Mother City team, Cape Town City, are also in action on Saturday, when they take on Chippa United in Port Elizabeth.
Just before the international break, Ajax installed Dutch legend Stanley Menzo as their new head coach. The former goalkeeper didn’t have much time to settle in, but, at least, got off to a positive start with a 1-1 draw to Free State Stars in Bethlehem. He has had time to work with the squad during the break, to instil his thinking and philosophy, so now the real hard work begins. The challenge is to restore confidence and get Ajax winning again.
Menzo has particularly spoken about creating competition in the squad. He wants the players to push each other. And, as always, when a new coach steps in, it’s an opportunity for others to stake a claim. Players who weren’t in the reckoning under former coach Roger de Sa now have a chance to impress the new man and force their way into the starting team, like burly Portuguese striker Joaquim ‘Jucie’ Lupeta.
In a friendly against high-riding NFD side Stellenbosch FC last week, Ajax won 6-1, with Lupeta impressing with a hat-trick.
“I was pleased with Jucie’s eagerness to score goals, to go forward and attack,” said Menzo. “Obviously, there are things to improve on, but one thing about a striker is that you have to be eager to score goals.
“We need competition in this team, so that we improve each other - The moment one player has an off-day, we can bring in other players and the level will still remain high.”
Taking Menzo’ thoughts into consideration, with regular striker Nathan Paulse out injured, and Ajax still struggling in front of goal, it looks likely that Lupeta’s big opportunity to shine could come against Maritzburg on Saturday.
Saturday: Mamelodi Sundowns v Kaizer Chiefs; Baroka FC v SuperSport United; Chippa United v Cape Town City; Orlando Pirates v Free State Stars; Ajax Cape Town v Maritzburg Utd; Platinum Stars v Wits
Sunday: Bloemfontein Celtic v Polokwane City; Highlands Park v Golden Arrows
Original source: Can Ajax turn things around after international break?