John Comitis hits out at Ajax Cape Town owners
Posted: 10 February 2014 Time: 14:32
We catch up with former Ajax Cape Town boss John Comitis, who tells us of his new role at FC Cape Town and his concern for the future of his former club.
What have you been up to since leaving Ajax Cape Town?
I’m still very much involved in the game; I joined FC Cape Town primarily to secure my position with the [PSL] executive. And at the same time I’m assisting them on the technical side and the team is looking good at the moment. Apart from that, I’m also looking at the PSL on how we can improve things in the First Division and make it better organised.
Do you miss the day-to-day running of a PSL club?
Well, what I’ve done in the background is assisting players moving from club to club – not as an agent, more as a deal broker. There are also kids who are asking for my advice and that is something that interests me. And I assisted FC Cape Town to move Alfred [Ndengane] to Bloemfontein Celtic and that is deal is worth around R2.5million in total. So I’m in the background and I’m enjoying it because I don’t have the pressure of the day-to-day factors of running a club, especially on the financial side.
When you look back, what were the best moments you had with Ajax Cape Town and the PSL?
Apart from winning three cups – Rothmans Cup, Absa Cup and Telkom Knockout – what was exciting is I would be in Amsterdam enjoying a cup final or the winning of the League by Ajax Amsterdam. So rubbing shoulders with the best football administrators in the world. The other highlight is the broadcast deal we achieved at the PSL and that was due to chairman Irvin Khoza.
Don’t you regret leaving Ajax Cape Town?
I don’t have regrets when I do things. I put in my contribution and I got returns for it. I created a world-class academy, a School of Excellence and played my part; now it’s up to others to continue with that.
When you look at the direction the club has taking since you left, are you happy and do you support the club?
I don’t think the management is right for the club – I can say that straight-forward. They need to be people’s people and they are not; they need to know the game and they don’t … it’s as simple as that. Ajax [Amsterdam] needs to step in and take more control of their club if they want to see the success we had in the last 10 years or so.
There are lots of players leaving Ajax Cape Town, with some signing pre-contracts with other clubs. Is that a cause for concern?
That is the biggest concern. For 14 years we never lost a single player, not from the youth and not from the senior team. If a player left for free it’s because we did that by choice; that was as a result of us being completely on top of things all the time. Sometimes we had to pay extra if we thought it was worth it, but we never lost a player. When players want to leave, when youth players want to leave, when parents want to take their kids away, is in indicator that something is not right there. I know what it is, but unfortunately Ajax Amsterdam need to find out what it is because it’s just going to snowball into something disastrous.
Thulani Hlatshwayo has also signed a pre-contract with Bidvest Wits. When you were in charge, how did you avoid this?
They didn’t make him a good enough offer. He came and asked for my advice and I asked him, ‘What is the other club offering you?’. He was offered two-and-a-half times more than what Ajax were offering him, so it’s not difficult for a player to make a decision to leave. Ajax Cape Town should have broken the bank to keep him there. If they had done that, he would have been with them next season.
And Mabhuti Khenyeza left for Mpumalanga Black Aces when he could have remained with Ajax …
That was a big blunder, a blunder on behalf of the new owners. That was their first big mistake. Today they don’t have a strike-force. Young Tasreeq Morris is looking great – he is the next big one, but it will take time because young players need experienced players around them, otherwise it takes longer for them to get through.
What do you make of the coaching situation? Muhsin Ertugral has left and there are talks that Roger de Sa might take over …
I’m not sure about that appointment. What I am sure about is that Ajax Amsterdam must have a contribution because that is part of the contractual agreement. They need to make sure that whoever comes in is able to work with younger players and have the ability to develop them and coach them in that system. Muhsin had that. They would have got better and I don’t know why he left, but that is not my concern. I would be more concerned about the next appointment.
When you look back into your career is there anything you think you should have done differently?
I think at times I should have persevered with certain coaches, but I listened to too many people in the background and those people were not football people. I was under pressure from partners at times; if we had stuck with Craig Rosslee we would have had a team that would have remained in the top five year-in, year-out. What happens is you try to mix results and emotions and make hasty decisions. I think two other coaches should have been given more time to get it right.