Roger de Sa’s survival battle

FILE PICTURE: Roger De Sa. Picture: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images.

FILE PICTURE: Roger De Sa. Picture: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images.

Roger de Sa’s move to the Mother City last week to take over the coaching reins at Ajax Cape Town, has been described as a match made in heaven.

But his job is to move the Urban Warriors from the depths of the relegation hell the club is staring at. It’s not a direct stare, as Golden Arrows and Free State Stars occupy the bottom two positions, but any slip-up from Ajax could draw them into the relegation quagmire with 10 points separating 11th place Ajax and bottom-of-the-log Arrows.

It’s something De Sa wouldn’t like to happen for a second time in his coaching career having been in charge of Bidvest Wits when they were relegated in the 2004/05 season.

That’s not the only similarity Ajax shares with Wits. The Urban Warriors’ structures – where youth development is the pillar – are something De Sa thrived under at Wits, where he guided a youthful side to the Nedbank Cup title in 2010.

“I have always loved that part of the game, seeing kids coming through, and Ajax have probably the best development structure in the country,” De Sa said.

“I was hoping to see Rivaldo, who is just 17 years old playing against Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup on Friday but his paperwork wasn’t ready. I believe that if a player is good enough to play for say the South African Under-20 side, then he should be good enough to play in the PSL. Why stop him?”

The Brazilians stopped Ajax in the Nedbank Cup that Friday with a 1-0 defeat. De Sa was in the dugout with little input about the make-up of the squad as the match came a day after he joined the club.

But though he will have full say in their match against Polokwane City at Athlone Stadium on Friday, his worry is losing top players as has been the case at Ajax.

“The important thing is that if a player goes, you must have someone ready to replace him, be it from the youth team or wherever,” De Sa said. “That said, we can’t only be a production line, we want success in the domestic league.”






today in print