Johnson targets rare Chiefs double

Thumbnail

The 57-year-old from Westbury in Johannesburg has based his coaching philosophy on instilling his squad with determination, courage and an almost desperate desire to never give up. And Platinum certainly needed every inch of this attitude to get past gutsy Cape Second Division team Steenberg United in a Cup fixture at the weekend. The Rustenburg side eventually made it to the next round 5-4 on penalties.

But they’ll require even more of this spunk and perseverance this week.

On Wednesday night, Platinum have a tough PSL fixture against Kaizer Chiefs, where there will definitely be a whiff of revenge in the air.

Johnson’s side defeated Chiefs 2-1 with a late flourish - and two goals from Kuils River striker Eleazer Rodgers - at the Cape Town Stadium last month. No doubt, the popular Soweto club wants to avenge that unexpected loss tonight.

And then, on Sunday, Platinum host Ajax Cape Town in a PSL fixture at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg (kick-off 3.30pm) - and Johnson, of course, is well aware of the threat posed by the Capetonians.

Johnson spent a few years working in Ajax’s youth structures and also had a spell as head coach. But it was in 2012, when in charge of Platinum, that he quickly rose to prominence. He inspired the unfashionable Rustenburg team to a second place finish in the league and was, as such, poached by ambitious SuperSport United the following year. Things never went according to plan in Pretoria and, now, Johnson is back at his beloved Platinum - and, again, his special affinity for the club has the players motivated and performing with character.

Ajax are in a bit of a slump - currently on a disappointing four-game winless run - but Johnson is not reading too much into that. In fact, he’s not even thinking too much about Ajax at the moment - tonight’s Chiefs clash is uppermost in his thoughts. He’ll focus on the Capetonians when he wakes up tomorrow morning …

“There have to be strong characters in a team,” said Johnson. “You must have players who will fight for a point, or never give up trying to get three points … I think there is a lot of character in this Platinum squad - you saw that when we beat Chiefs in the Cape last time.

“I think we’ll be a much better squad next season. Right now, we are working on the team to be more consistent and trying to build a winning mentality. But I’m looking forward to the run-in to the season … I think we’ve shown we are a capable, competitive squad and we want finish as high as we possibly can.”

In contrast, while Platinum have displayed this character and courage Johnson believes to be vital to success, Ajax have recently been bereft of these traits. The Capetonians simply capitulate … There’s no fight, and there’s no determination to knuckle down in the face of adversity.

And Ajax coach Roger de Sa is certainly fully aware of what his squad lacks: “Defensively, we have a natural tendency to back off and that hurts us. As soon as teams become a little bit physical and the officials allow it, we battle. We start to get on the back foot … We’ve got to be a bit more offensive and defend forward. That’s one of the things we’ve got to look at, we need to become men and take that confrontation head-on.”

The Star

Original source: Johnson targets rare Chiefs double

by