Bageta, with 41 caps for DR Congo, is coach Gordon Igesund’s best signing along with Mozambican striker Tico-Tico Bucuane. He will be up against his old club, where Bageta was a hugely solid presence in Ajax’s second-placed finish last season.
It was surprising Ajax let the 30-year-old Congolese go, having served the club with distinction for three seasons. Yesterday Bageta was full of all the old euphemisms footballers tend to produce ahead of a game they know will not be easy for their team.
“I know it will be tough, but we have to go there and try for three points,” he said. “And that would be a very happy day for me against my old club. And, of course, for the coach too. Since Gordon left Ajax he hasn’t managed to beat them.
“We must go there and play our own game. I know how tough it will be, but I also know everyone in the Ajax team, and how the coach will prepare the side. But they don’t know anything about Maritzburg United, so I think we’ve got a 50/50 chance.”
Along with Bageta, Ajax have lost a host of top players to Europe, including Terror Fanteni, Bryce Moon, Nathan Paulse and Russell Mwafulirwa.
Dikilu said United’s pre-season has gone well considering their late start due to the delay in the NFD play-offs.
“Our preparation has gone well. The only thing is that there are a lot of players who only arrived here in the last two weeks.
“Tico-Tico has only trained with us for two or three days, so it’s going to be difficult for us to come together as a team. But we have a lot of experienced players to compete with.
“Maybe, though, we will only be a strong team in one month’s time. We have two weeks between playing Ajax and our next game against Kaizer Chiefs in Durban, and I think by then we will be strong enough.”
Bageta - brought to Ajax by Igesund in 2003 from TP Mazembe, who he returned to for a stint in 2006 – is pleased to reunite with the coach he worked with for two seasons, finishing a league runner-up in 2005.
“I know him like a father,” the defender said. “He is a coach who likes talking to the players. If he wants players to do something in training he knows how to explain it to them.
“And I know he is not like a god – he is human and you know that you can talk to him. I’m glad to work with him again because when he came to Ajax he helped us so much as players.”
Tomorrow’s match will be televised delayed on SABC1 at 10 pm.