CAPE TOWN – Every soccer season in the Cape starts off with such promise. But as has been the case over the past few seasons, Cape football once again delivered so little at the end of the day.
After Chippa were relegated from the Premier Soccer League (PSL) at the end of last season, the pressure was on Ajax Cape Town to fly the flag for elite football in the Western Cape.
After only narrowly escaping relegation themselves last year, the threat of almost playing in the relative abyss of the National First Division (NFD) was enough to rouse the Urban Warriors to make sure that the same mistakes would not be repeated this time round.
Former coach Muhsin Ertugral made sure the Parow-based club kept their top flight status last season and stated that he was eager to achieve great things with a club that he always claimed was very close to his heart.
However, that was not to be.
Ajax managed only one win away from home in the first half of the season, at SuperSport United, and found themselves hovering towards the lower end of mid-table.
After the break for the 2014 African Nations Championship in January, Ertugral took the decision to part ways with Ajax for personal reasons.
The death of Ertugral’s uncle meant he had to take responsibility of the family business in Turkey.
His sudden departure left many players in a state of flux and disarray.
Ertugral was not only their coach, but served as a father figure to many of the Ajax players.
Roger de Sa then took over after he left Orlando Pirates, making it clear he was going to focus on the youth and developing young players, in-line with the team’s philosophy.
However, results didn’t come like they would have liked as injuries plagued the team, often leaving de Sa with no more than 20 players to travel with or select from for matches.
The top eight was a real focus for the Urban Warriors, but with only a game to go they will miss out on a top-half finish, which is unsurprising after winning just two games on the road.
The fact that Ajax are unable to finish in the top eight could have severe off-field implications for the Cape side.
Their poor league finish won’t help them find a new sponsor after MTN announced it won’t be renewing their sponsorship for next season.
In spite of Ajax’s struggles this season, it’s not all doom and gloom.
Chippa United won promotion back to the PSL after finishing on top of the pile in the NFD.
However, local football fans should not get too excited at the prospect of having two teams in top flight football.
Team chairperson and owner Chippa Mpengesi is in talks about a possible move to Port Elizabeth.
According to the businessman, an offer to relocate the club permanently to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium has been put on the table.
The Phillipi club has become known for hiring and firing coaches, and nothing has changed now with Vladislav Heric the latest to be shown the exit door.
The Serbian wasn’t able to keep his job despite guiding the team into the PSL.
There is talk about Steve Khomphela taking over but only time will tell.
No doubt things are bound to be interesting next season.
Local football fans can expect nothing short of an emotional roller coaster ride in Cape football once again.