Pretoria - Polokwane City coach Boebie Solomons has tipped new signing Cole Alexander to become a leading star for the team after showing glimpses of what can be expected this season.
Alexander was snapped up at the end of last season from Ajax Cape Town, who deemed the talented midfielder surplus to requirements, prompting a two-year deal for the 24-year-old in Polokwane.
He showed his class in Polokwane’s first game of the season against the University of Pretoria on Saturday, and sparked the team into life in the 32nd minute. He set up a lone goal from Puleng Tlolane, who rounded off a superb play and bagged three points for the visitors.
Solomons feels Ajax made a big mistake by letting Alexander leave the Cape Town club.
“I’m surprised that they never used him well,” Solomons, who worked with Alexander while coaching in Cape Town, said.
“I’ve always admired him because he came through our junior ranks in the Western Province. He played for all the provincial teams and he’s got the character as well.
“I’m very surprised they never used him often but I’m very happy that we’ve got him here. He can make a difference. He’s got a slight injury, but even with that you can see he stands out in the middle of the field.”
According to Solomons, Alexander’s biggest advantage was coming through the excellent academy ranks at Ajax, who have long since been the leaders in developing new talent in the country.
“Cole is a very intelligent player. We lack intelligent players in South Africa.
“A lot of our players are very skilful, they’ve got good technique, but that intelligence is not there.
“A player that can think on the field, a player that can read the game… he’s got that ability. He will be able to fill gaps and start attacks with his intelligence and reading of the game.”
A win on the first day of the season would give Solomons some much-needed relief after a tumultuous last two months, which saw Rise and Shine survive relegation from the Premiership, after coming through promotion/relegation playoffs to secure their participation this season.
“We just want to be close to the top eight -- inside or outside the top eight. We want to build a team for the future,” Solomons said, preferring to stray away from a similar scenario to last season.
Turning his attention to Saturday’s goal-scorer, Solomons said, like so many others at the club, Tlolane needed guidance but showed enough to reassure the coach that he would be a welcome addition in the new campaign.
“Puleng is like raw talent. He’s got the soccer brain -- he might not have played for a long time in the Premiership, but he’s got a soccer brain.
“He gets himself in and out of situations very well and he’s a good student, he’s a good learner. He’s hungry to learn and he’s such a good character.”