2017/18 Season Review: Ajax Cape Town
Posted: 11 June 2018 Time: 16:00
With the 2017/18 season officially over, KickOff.com looks back at each club’s campaign over the past year, reviewing their performance and where improvement is needed.
Going in alphabetical order, we begin our review with ailing Western Cape club Ajax Cape Town.
Beginning the season under the tutelage of former Dutch international Stanley Menzo, who had guided the club to a 10th-placed finish last season, a lot was expected from the Urban Warriors who had bolstered their squad with the likes of National First Division top scorer Sedwyn George, Nigerian international Ejike Uzoenyi and Orlando Pirates loanee Tercious Malepe.
Beginning the season with a 1-1 draw, Ajax would have to wait four matches until their first victory, a 2-0 win over Polokwane City, which would be their only three-pointer until the end of October.
Just three victories in 14 games left Ajax sitting in 15th spot at the turn of the year, as experienced Turk Muhsin Ertugral was brought in for his fourth stint at Ikamva. In a bid to save their season, high-profile January recruits including Yannick Zakri, Fagrie Lakay, Siyanda Zwane, Siboniso Gaxa and Tendai Ndoro joined the Cape team, but to no avail, with the club’s dismal away form their ultimate Achilles heel: they failed to register a win on the road the entire season, earning just three points away from home to end the season second-from-bottom, having lost their final must-win league game of the season 2-1 to Kaizer Chiefs.
Mired in controversy for the past few months, Ajax have been battling in court to save their season after being docked seven points for fielding ineligible striker Tendai Ndoro, who breached FIFA rules by playing for three different clubs in one season. The points deduction saw Ajax relegated to the National First Division for the first time in their history, a decision which is still under review in court, with a final verdict set to be reached later this week.
In line with their poor league form, no solace was found in domestic cup competitions, as Ajax fell at the first hurdle in both the Telkom Knockout and Nedbank Cup. A goalless draw against Polokwane City in the TKO first round eventually ended in a 4-3 penalty shootout loss, while they could not repeat their heroics against Orlando Pirates in the Nedbank Cup, going down 2-0 in the Last 32 despite having comfortably beaten the Soweto giants 3-0 in the league 10 days earlier.
Ajax took the least shots at goal of all 16 teams in the PSL over the entire season, averaging just 9.9 attempts at goal per game. They also scored the least goals of any team away from home (6 in 15 matches) while also conceding the most shots at goal of any team in the league (15).
Areas of improvement
Ajax’s transfer window will be difficult to negotiate, with an exodus expected if the club drops to South Africa’s second tier. Very few players will be interested in joining a club in the First Division. Added to that, the club’s mantra of sticking with youngsters might not bear results in the tough and physically demanding league that is South Africa’s NFD.
Above all, a mental shift is needed to put the demons of the club’s woeful away form to bed – Ajax have won just three away games over the last two years.