Mark Gleeson

Ajax to win PSL title?

2011-03-14 07:12
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

At the risk of unleashing a torrent of abuse, here is why I think it would be good for the game if Ajax Cape Town win the title.

It is not to say I think they will – with just a tight permutation at the top of the table and two months of matches still to come, it is foolhardy to make any predictions.

There are still some definite matches ahead on the fixture list and, with the pressure mounting almost daily, it is still a wide open race.

But an Ajax triumph would ensure three major positives for South African football and the league.

First, it would lead to more clubs upgrading, indeed copying, Ajax’s junior and development structures so they can properly prepare the stars of tomorrow.

Most big teams now have academy programmes but none are as comprehensive as that at Ikamva nor have as singularly successful philosophical outlook.

Taking a leaf from their mother club in Holland, Ajax demand all their sides play the same pattern of football, ensuring coaches work to a programme and that the end result is a player well conversant in the way the club seeks him to play.

Coaching is a egotistical business and the natural inclination for coaches, at whatever club and whatever level, to employ their beliefs and approach.

But at Ajax, with a strong central system headed by a technical director who works closely with the first team coach, uniformity is achieved. They also make sure they hire good coaches, best suited to the age groups they look after. There are no jobs for pals.

Were more clubs to choose a preferred pattern of play and make sure their entire club, from first team down, play that way, it would ensure more technically astute and tactically aware youngsters coming through the ranks. That would be boon for the whole South African game.

A second reason why Ajax should be crowned champions in that it is likely to spurn a bevy of clubs who will copy the way they have played this year under Foppe de Haan.

There will certainly be few who could successfully argue Ajax’s brand of soccer has not been the best to watch in the Premier Soccer League this season and for entertainment value alone it must be encouraged elsewhere.

Supporters go to games to watch some decent ball. Most times they get it in patches but too often technical skills are let down by poor decision making, a lack of subtle touch and woeful shooting.

I also reckon if Ajax are champions, the other three major powers – Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates – are going to be majorly peeved and will spend the off-season preparing for the new campaign with intense gusto, hiring top coaches and buying leading players like never before.

If Ajax win, the drought of championship success extends for the trio -- and that surely will make them nastier and hungrier.

That can only augur well for the next season, making it potentially even more keenly-contested than the thrilling campaign we have on our hands now.

There will not be too many complaints about that.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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