Pirates, Ajax seek to kick-start season

Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town clash in the Absa Premiership on Tuesday night

Orlando Pirates coach Roger de Sa faces a first home game in charge of the side when they welcome Ajax Cape Town to the Orlando Stadium for their Absa Premiership clash on Tuesday night.

Both sides have made below par starts to the season, with Pirates replacing Augusto Palacios with De Sa ahead of their 1-0 away win at Platinum Stars last time out.

That was a decent start for the coach, but he admits there is work still to be done.

"I thought we played well against Platinum Stars. The only problem is that we still need to score more goals, which is something we are attending to at training,” De Sa says.

"Once we get that issue right, I have no doubt we will really do well. I believe in continuity, so it is important for us to be consistent after the win over Stars.

"It was great to see Pirates supporters celebrating after they'd had two successive defeats. You have to remember they are not used to losing."

Benni McCarthy will be missing for Bucs through injury, as is right-back Happy Jele, but De Sa otherwise has a full-strength squad to work with.

Ajax have lost their last six away matches dating back to last season, conceding 16 goals in the process.

But coach Maarten Stekelenburg believes his side are on the right track with their development and that the good times are just around the corner. He adds they will not give up their attacking style.

“Certain teams have certain philosophies about how the game should be played. We are an attacking side and our belief is always that we will score more than we concede,” Stekelenburg says.

“We want to go out there to win matches, to play good football and to entertain the supporters. That is what we believe in as a club. We realise that comes with taking risks, it means we sometimes press more in the opponents half and if you don’t do that well, you will give goals away.  

“I have the feeling that in this squad there is more consistency than last season. I am very happy with the group I have, there is a lot of competition to start and everybody is giving a lot in training.

“I have a very fit group and I have to make some tough choices for my starting XI. This is what I want.”

Ajax will be without their Brazilian signing Wanderson, who is still waiting for his work permit, but better news is the return of forward Lebohang Manyama, and possibly defender Thulani Hlatshwayo, who will be assessed ahead of Tuesday’s game after suffering a dental injury at the start of the month.