Rangers hoping for a Happy Weekend

Kamlesh Gosai
Friday is a public holiday, but footballers will be hard at work this long weekend as log leaders Manning Rangers aim for their third consecutive win and neighbours AmaZulu and African Wanderers try to find some consistency.
Mighty Maulers coach Gordon Igesund, while pleased to be leading the league, has been busy preparing for his team's visit to the Newlands rugby stadium, where they face Ajax Cape Town on Friday afternoon.

"Just to be up there is nice, but it's too early in the season to read anything into it. We are still aiming for a top eight finish. The players are really beginning to gel as a team, and we are now at 75 percent of our full potential. They are still making mistakes on the field. And it is only when they do that, that I can show them where they are going wrong," said Igesund.

Following Wednesday night's 2-0 home victory over Umtata Bucks, which took the club three points clear of Sundowns, Igesund is emphasising the importance of keeping possession when under pressure.

"In the first half I thought we were excellent, but they threw everything at us in the last 20 minutes. They had the wind at their backs and I decided to defend. We should have kept the ball more than we did, played a few triangles."

Against Ajax, Rangers might not be at full strength. While under-23 international defender Nkhiphitheni Matombo rejoins the squad after a three-match suspension and striker Solo Ndimande is expected to recover from a groin injury, Japhet Zwane has an ankle injury.

Either way, Igesund has done his homework for Friday's match. He reeled off the names of Ajax's key players: Dillon Sheppard, Bennet Masinga, Sam Pam, Fani Madida, Rolf de Boer and Theo Hempe to emphasise his pre-match planning.

"It won't be easy. The grass at rugby grounds is longer and heavy underfoot. The ball also travels much slower. They are a good side with tremendous players, but the pressure will be on them. They are playing at home in front of their supporters. They have spent millions on players, whereas we're on top of the league. I know how the Ajax system operates. Player A must pass to player B and he must pass to player C and not to E. They play with three strikers, a wide left, wide right, and one in the centre. I will have to change my tactics because of the way they play. We are playing away so I've got to change. We will have to stop their strengths," said Igesund.