In this week's DoRego's blog, we feature Ajax Cape Town’s Lebogang Manyama.
Beating Free State Stars 4-2, I think siqale grand (we started off well) and unfortunately we conceded first. But in this game, unlike in the other games, we didn’t drop our heads after conceding. I think that was the best moment of the game. After they scored, we kept on going and we knew that as long as we kept on running behind their defence, we’d eventually get something.
Ja, the coach has been talking a lot, but I think we had to take responsibility for some of the things that have been happening in the team. We’re in this together and it’s not only the coach who has to take responsibility for everything. We had to stand up and show that we also want to survive. In a way you can say his words helped, but I think we as players took more responsibility and I think that was a good start. Look, we always watch First Division games and with the kind of football we play... do we deserve to be there? I don’t think so. I don’t think anyone deserves to be there, but if we don’t wake up, then we’ll end up being there and when you’re down, it’s hard to go up again because the teams there fight for everything. We can talk every week and say we wanna do it next week, we wanna do it next time, but at the same time, the season is reaching its end. We’re left with seven games now and if you look to say next time, next time, you could find yourself playing in the First Division.
I don’t really know why we’re down there, in the bottom half of the log. But I think we haven’t been playing to the best of our ability. We’ve got talent, we’ve got everything at Ajax, but we’re not playing with heart. If we can mix the talent that we have with heart, we can go far. A team like Free State Stars was a real test of character because they play with heart. They don’t have the best players in the PSL but they play with heart and every time they play, you can see that they fight for everything, so I think it was a good test. We showed that we can play with heart, but it has to be consistent. It can’t be something that happens on Sunday and then come the next game you don’t see it and then the next game you show it. We don’t have time for that! We don’t deserve to be there, but we are there and we have no choice but to believe that we can do it and I really think we will survive.
I think we don’t take enough risks to improve. On Sunday we took a lot of risks and made a lot of runs. If you look back at that season when we came second, we ran a lot. We made a lot of runs and took a lot of risks, but in the past year or so, it hasn’t been coming consistently. It’s not something that we can beat ourselves up about. We know we can do it, but we have to believe in it. You can’t do something if you don’t believe in it. We are working on it week in and week out. At the same time, credit must go to our midfield. They took a bit of risk going forward and they backed us up really well against Stars and I think that’s been the big difference...how the midfielders work with the strikers. When Foppe de Haan was still here, we probably had the best midfield, with George Maluleka, Granwald Scott and Thulani Serero. They always backed the forwards. We knew when you were playing forward that even if you take a risk, you’ve still got players behind you. That connection... it makes a whole lot of difference and I think once we start clicking in that sense it’s going to get better and better.
You can never look at Orlando Pirates’ past results. They’re a big team and always play under pressure. You can’t say they haven’t been playing well so it’s going to be easy for us. I think we have to show a bit more of what we showed on the weekend and hope for the best. If you give it your best shot, then you can only hope for the best.
Obviously I can’t say I’ve been doing really well because we are a team. If I was doing well, the team would probably be in fourth position. I’ve tried my best here and there, but I think my biggest problem has been consistency. Sometimes I play well and sometimes I don’t play well, but it’s something you have to work on as a player. There’s always room for improvement, so it can only get better if I push myself. We’ll see what happens and then I can look back at the end of the season and say, ‘You know what, I tried my best.’
I’d really love to thank our supporters for being there during the tough times. Even though we haven’t really played our best football in the past year or so, they’ve always been there, and yesterday it showed. When we play well they’re happy. There’s a group of fans that is always there and they’ve never given up on us. They never even criticise! We’ll keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully reap the rewards in the near future.
Ajax Cape Town