The two strikers have different reasons to excel. Nxumalo netted twice in Ajax’s 2-2 draw with Jomo Cosomos last week, which took his season tally to 13 goals in the PSL. He is just one behind the leading marksman, Zambian Collins Mbesuma of Mpumalanga Black Aces. Wednesday’s game provides the 25-year-old Nxumalo with a great stage for more goals – and an opportunity to finish the campaign with the PSL’s Golden Booth award.
Veteran Paulse, now 34 years old, continues to play an influential role at the club. Not only has he made a solid contribution to the squad this season – he netted the winning goal when Ajax won the MTN8 competition last year – but his importance as an experienced guiding hand for the youngsters in the team is just as vital. To reward Paulse, and to acknowledge how important he is to the squad, Ajax at the weekend extended the player’s contract for one more season.
“I’m excited to have extended my stay at Ajax for another year,” said Paulse. “I feel that I still have a lot to offer. It’s been a good few years for me and I look forward to helping the team more next season.
“We have to work harder and set new goals. Our ambition is to grow as a team. I’m glad that I’ll be part of that journey of this club once again in the new season. Everybody knows that I love this club and that I’m proud to play for Ajax.
“Next season, I would like to keep improving. I have the same hunger and ambition as I’ve had as an 18-year-old boy. I think it showed when we won the MTN8. I want to continue to help the club win more trophies. As for the young players, helping them improve and grow their mind-sets and attitudes are the things I feel I can still add off the field as well. This keeps me inspired, humble and hungry for more.”
While Nxumalo and Paulse go in search of goals on Wednesday – Nxumalo for personal achievement and Paulse to thank the Cape club for its faith in his ability – Ajax will, however find stern opposition and motivated and determined competition in Maritzburg.
The KwaZulu-Natal side is in desperate need of points. Currently rock-bottom with 21 points, with University of Pretoria also on 21 and Jomo Cosmos on 25, there is a lot to play for.
The last-placed club in the PSL is relegated to the NFD, while the team finishing second-last joins the teams ending second and third in the NFD in a promotion play-off.
Maritzburg’s German coach Ernst Middendorop hasn’t given up yet. He remains confident his team can avoid relegation. On Saturday, they earned a point in a 0-0 draw with Orlando Pirates – and they are primed and resolved to get the three points against Ajax on Wednesday.
“We put everything in (against Pirates), it was very close in some moments,” said Middendorp after the Pirates stalemate. “I told my players to keep this concentration, keep this focus, to keep this desire.
“We keep fighting, we play the next game (against Ajax), it’s a home game, hopefully there is a lot of support and we make the step that’s necessary. Two games to play…
“We know we have a chance, I said at the beginning of January, when I went into this challenging project, that the last three or four games will be crucial. We are somehow used to it, this situation of nothing to lose.”
w Ajax Cape Town’s annual Under-19 trip to Europe has resulted in the Cape club having to withdraw five of its players from the SA U20 squad scheduled to play Namibia in an African Youth Championships qualifying tie.
The players called up are Darren Johnson, Sergio Kammies, Aghmat Ceres, Shane Saralina and Masilake Phohlongo.
Original source: Different reasons for Ajax duo to shine