Not only is stalwart left winger Franklin Cale back from a facial injury, but the Urban Warriors have also acquired veteran Ashley Hartog to add some much-needed steel to a talented but young midfield.
Ajax announced on their website on Thursday that Hartog has been training with the team for the last two weeks, and that terms have been agreed until the end of the season.
The much-travelled Hartog first made his name at FC Fortune and FC Cape Town, but has had stints with SuperSport United, Maritzburg United and even overseas with Belgian club Sint Truidense.
So, the move to Ajax is a homecoming of sorts for the born-and-bred Capetonian. “It’s been nice to train with these players for the two weeks before signing, seeing that I know most of the players here, which made it very easy for me to fit in,” the 33-year-old said.
“It’s very exciting to actually sign a contract with Ajax Cape Town because I was here before and it didn’t work out. To sign here at my age is a big thing for me.
“The team is doing great with so many young players. Even the recent Caf trip to Angola had a lot of youngsters, which is great to see. For a more experienced player to come in and settle in with them is also a great feeling.”
Some of those youngsters who would look to benefit from the presence of the battle-hardened Hartog include SA Under-23 stars such as Abbubaker Mobara, Riyaad Norodien and Rivaldo Coetzee.
And there was another fillip for the over-30 club at Ajax, as Cale will be available for Saturday’s Absa Premiership encounter against Polokwane City in Limpopo (3.30pm kickoff).
Cale, who has one of the most lethal left boots in the league, will have to wear a face mask for protection this weekend following his clash with Chippa United defender James Okwuosa saw him fracture his Zygomatic Arch (a bone just above the cheekbone) two weeks ago.
But his return comes at just the right time for Ajax coach Roger de Sa, who will hope that his team can work their way up the table in the second half of the season. The Urban Warriors are in 10th position with 22 points in 17 matches, while Polokwane City have 21 from 19 games, which places them in 13th spot.
“It’s a little bit scary for me playing with a mask, but that’s why I’ve been training with it. I got it on Monday so it’s a little bit uncomfortable, but I have to get used to it. It’s never easy when you get injured because you want to help your teammates. It’s not nice to just watch football. I was off for two weeks but the fitness is still there, I must just get back to playing ways now,” Cale said on the Ajax website.
“Polokwane are a difficult team, especially when you play away. They are a similar team to us, but they are more compact in the middle and like playing forward passes. They’ve got some nice speedy players.
“We just have to go out there and be ourselves. We need the three points and they need it too, so it can be a game that can maybe go our way if we just stick to our plan.”
Original source: Hartog, Cale boost Ajax