The quality of the footballers that emerge from Ajax’s successful youth development programme is of such high quality that they are always in demand from other Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs. But after promotion to senior level, not every player goes on to make it at Ajax, while others leave the Cape club because of better financial packages up north. Ajax host Wits in a MTN8 semi-final, first leg tie at Coetzenburg Stadium on Saturday night (kick-off 8.15pm) – and the same scenario applies, in that the Clever Boys will be bringing a number of ex-Ajax players back to the Mother City.
They include goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, defenders Thulani Hlatshwayo and Nazeer Allie and utility man Dillon Sheppard.
Josephs rose to prominence at Ajax before going on to star for Orlando Pirates, while Allie signed for Wits last month after turning down a new contract offer from Ajax.
The Cape club was as disappointed to lose Hlatshwayo to Wits last season. The defender had always been the rock they could depend upon. But the footballer nicknamed “Tyson” was keen on a new challenge and Ajax didn’t stand in his way – and the defender has since moved on to become a regular for Bafana Bafana as well. A solid and reliable footballer, who always gives his best, Hlatshwayo is looking forward to his return to the Cape. Wits come off a 2-1 PSL win over Ajax in Joburg, and the 25-year-old believes his team can repeat the feat. “We know what type of team Ajax are,” he said. “I’ve played for them, I’ve come through their structures and I know what their style of play is all about. I certainly know their strengths and weaknesses, so we’ll see how it goes.”
And you can throw another Capetonian into the mix, in the form of Wits coach Gavin Hunt. Earlier this season, Hunt brought Wits down to the Mother City for a pre-season training camp, which is why the conditions, even though it’s in Stellenbosch, doesn’t really affect the Joburg club’s confidence ahead of the clash.
“Our pre-season was spent in the Cape, so we know about the weather and hard fields,” said Hlatshwayo.
Having come through the Ajax youth programme, he knows the quality of the team, the ability of the players, and he knows Wits can expect a tough encounter on Saturday.
“The current Ajax coach (Roger de Sa) is a former Wits man, so he will know a bit about our team,” he said. “I think both teams are very good, and both are motivated to get to the final. It won’t be easy, but I’m confident we can do it.” - Cape Times
Original source: Wits ready to school Ajax