Cape Town - Ajax Cape Town's side is filled with young talent but who have lacked stability over the past few years but now Roger De Sa is hoping to steady the ship and bring success back to the Mother City’s premier club.
“It was an easy decision to come here. The link with Amsterdam and the youth set up, I enjoy the grooming of players. This is the best academy in the country,” he tells the clubs website.
De Sa is no one trick pony having represented South Africa in three separate sports (basketball, indoor soccer, and soccer).
He has coached at Wits and Santos, most recently as coach of Orlando Pirates. As a player he played for Swallows, Sundowns, and Wits. He was also a part of the 1996 African Cup of Nations winning squad.
He joined Ajax at the end of last season with the club battling relegation. It was an unstable set-up but De Sa helped steady the ship and guide the team to 14th place. In a country where the turnover of coaches is particularly high, Ajax has been particularly lax in maintaining of their coaches.
They have had 8 in the years since Foppe De Haan left - De Sa was the third coach they had that season. He is hoping to bring a sense of calm and stability to the club. “There has been a lot of player movement and that instability is not good for the club. There’s always going to be player movement but the core of the team has to be strong which is what we’re working on.”
“I’m looking for characters,” he says. “That’s what we’re lacking here, a little charisma, someone to bring a little mettle to this young team. Someone who can be influential in the change rooms, outside in the social world, and on the field.”
Ajax’s link to their Amsterdam counterparts is well known and De Sa is keen to build on that. “It’s important we learn from them. Their playing style is famous the world over. We have to use these ties to strengthen ourselves.”
One of De Sa’s strengths is that he knows what he has at his disposal and how to get the best out of it. Ajax is known for the strength of their academy and he is keen to utilize that. “I enjoy the grooming of players. This is the best Academy in the country. One of the things I’ve tried to do hear is to amalgamate the U-19’s with the PSL team. We’re going to work a lot closer than in the past. That will open up the whole academy. I like to be involved and I’m very close with the head of the Youth system as well. It’s important to me that I know what we have here so I am aware of the players’ potential.”
At the same time, he is acutely aware of the balancing act required for a developmental club such as Ajax. Keagan Dolly is the Urban Warriors hottest young talent and the player has now revealed that a move could still happen despite De Sa and club CEO, Ari Efstathiou, saying that the 21-year-old is going nowhere.
Read Here: Dolly unsure of Ajax CT future
“It’s a fine line. This is a development club which has always produced top players. We know we have to find that balance and not just sell, sell, sell.”
“We’ve got to become more competitive and consistent in our performances and our planning. It’s a long term project.”
Being Cape Town’s premier club, the pressure for the Urban Warriors to succeed is great. Those who have worked with De Sa will know that he is a cool customer and seems almost unflappable in the face of pressure and media scrutiny.
“I’ve been dealing with pressure since I was 17. You just have to bear with it. This is a great franchise to lead. I’m making sure I’m doing it with dignity and honesty,” he concludes.