But despite the precarious situation Ajax are in - rock-bottom on the PSL standings - the mood among the players remains positive. They may not have won a game as yet this season, but they are confident of the quality they have in the team, and are just as determined to pull off the win today.
If the Urban Warriors are to win, they’ll not only need to convert their scoring chances, but it’s just as vital that they don’t concede - and it’s here where 20-year-old goalkeeper Jody February has an important role to play.
February is the holder of the No 1 jersey, but there’s an almighty scrap for the position. Ajax are blessed with three hugely promising keepers in February, Brandon Petersen and Darren Johnson.
With the regular shot-stopper for the last few seasons, Finn Anssi Jaakkola, leaving to join English Championship side Reading earlier this year, former Ajax coach Roger de Sa handed the jersey to Petersen when the PSL got underway. After Petersen had played about five games, the jersey changed hands, with De Sa offering February an opportunity.
De Sa has since quit, with former Netherlands goalkeeper Stanley Menzo placed in charge. The new coach has had one game so far - a 1-1 draw with Free State Stars - and February was the man tasked with manning the goal in that match.
Menzo is still finding his feet and getting to know the players, so the goalkeeper jersey is still up for grabs.
As the man in possession, Strandfontein’s February is fully aware that he has to constantly keep giving his best.
There is no margin for error because there are two very good keepers waiting in the wings to relieve him of his gloves.
“I am enjoying playing at the moment and I’m doing everything to keep the number one spot,” February said.
“We have three quality goalkeepers, so that’s good for the team. It keeps me on my toes and pushes me to be a much better goalkeeper. The more I play, the more I grow, so I’m hoping I can continue this run of games.
“The three of us have a great understanding and we work well together. We don’t have any bad blood and we always support the one picked to play,” he added.
“We are always pushing each other on training and helping each other when we slip up. We are all fighting for the number one jersey and that is good, because then there are three hungry goalkeepers and that’s great for the club.”
As for the new coach, February, is still getting a feel for Menzo.
The Ajax Amsterdam legend has had an opportunity to work with the squad during the two-week international break, and he has been hard at work infusing the players with his own brand of coaching style and approach to the game.
“The coach obviously has his own philosophy and a certain way of doing things, so we have to adapt to that really quickly,” February said.
“He is a good coach and helps us a lot during training and during the games. He is always willing to give good advice and work with us as a whole and as individuals. We enjoy having him as a coach.”
But for Ajax, Saturday nght is crunch time. Nothing less than a win will do. February knows it, the entire squad are aware of it, and Menzo - the coach brought in to turn things around - most definitely needs to prise a match-winning performance from the team.
“We need to get a win (against Maritzburg), there is no two ways about that, and I’m sure everyone at the club feels that way,” February added.
“We expect a tough game and we know it’s going be a very difficult 90 minutes. But we have to leave everything on the field and make sure it’s nothing less than three points.”
Original source: Jody determined to remain Ajax’s No 1