Cape Town - Ajax Cape Town coach Foppe de Haan has been rewarded for his sterling work at the Urban Warriors as he was named as the Absa Premiership Coach of the Month for February.
Bongolwethu Jayiya, the crack Wits striker, bagged the Absa Premiership Player of the Month award for his goal-scoring exploits which saw the Students move out of the relegation zone.
The two winners were announced at the Premier Soccer League offices in Parktown on Monday.
De Haan, who also led the Dutch Under-21 side to European glory in 2007, just pipped Wits coach Roger da Sa when the final votes were tallied; thereby denying high-riding Wits what could have been a unique double. Last month’s Absa Premiership coach of the Month, Ruud Krol of Orlando Pirates, finished third.
De Haan has been hailed for galvanising a team devoid of big names and for maintaining pressure on the two Soweto giants, leaders Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs in the race for the Absa Premiership title. During this period, the Urban Warriors had an impressive run of five unbeaten matches, the highlight being a pulsating 4-3 derby win over city rivals Santos. The team strung together four straight wins, which at one stage took them to the summit of the Absa Premiership table.
“During the month of February, Ajax collected 13 points from a possible 15. That is a near perfect record. De Haan has definitely turned the Urban Warriors into serious title contenders”, one of the judging panel commented.
Bidvest Wits coach Roger de Sa however, also put in a strong challenge and ran De Haan close for the title of Absa Premiership Coach of the Month. De Sa engineered a remarkable turnaround for the Clever Boys. After an eight-game winless streak, they started their revival with a 2-1 victory over Absa Premiership champions SuperSport United. De Sa’s attacking style was also apparent in their 6-0 demolition of Vasco Da Gama.
Buccaneers coach Ruud Krol was also in the running, thanks to Pirates’ unbeaten run which saw them stay at the top of the Absa Premiership table.
Jayiya’s exploits in front of goal for Wits made him the judges’ favourite for the award of Absa Premiership Player of the Month. He has proven to be a real match-winner and his seven goals during the February judging period, helped revive Wits’ Absa Premiership campaign.
“This 20-year-old was promoted from the Bidvest development structures only in January. He has since scored an unprecedented six goals in five games, including a brace on his debut. He has shown remarkable improvement in every match. He is definitely someone to watch for the future,” a judging panelist added.
Ajax’s Thulani Serero was also in the running, especially after scoring one of the goals of the season against Santos in a 4-3 thriller. Serero played a huge part in Ajax’s surge to the top of the Absa Premiership table, scoring some vital goals for the team from the Mother City.
Kaizer Motaung Jnr. of Kaizer Chiefs was also lauded for his consistency for Amakhosi and being the perfect foil for last month’s Absa Premiership Player of the Month, Knowledge Musona.
For his magnificent start to his career, Jayiya was also named Talented Young Player of the Month.
Happy Ntshingila, Absa’s Chief Marketing and Communication Officer, congratulated all the winners. “Everyone should be extremely proud of their achievements. This is clearly becoming one of the most tightly contested seasons.
The teams are closely matched so players have to consistently put in sterling performances in order to get the judging panel’s nod. I hope this continues as the race for the Absa Premiership reaches its climax.”
Premier Soccer League CEO, Kjetil Siem, also added his congratulations; “I’m impressed that it’s not only the seasoned players staking a claim for the Player Of the Month Award, but newcomers as well. It’s exciting times for us and we looking forward to another exciting climax to the Absa Premiership.