Ajax Cape Town coach Stanley Menzo has explained why he has deployed Orlando Pirates loanee Tercious Malepe in a defensive midfield role.
The Urban Warriors secured the signing of Malepe from Pirates on transfer deadline day, boosting their squad’s defensive options following the departure of Rivaldo Coetzee.
Despite captaining the South Africa Under-20 side at centre-back this year, Malepe has been used as a defensive midfielder in both games he has started since joining Ajax – a 1-0 loss to Orlando Pirates and 2-0 victory over Polokwane City.
When quizzed about the player’s positional change, Menzo admitted he is looking to fill the void left by wantaway former captain Travis Graham, and feels Malepe is more than capable of screening the defensive line as a midfielder as opposed to his more familiar position at centre-back.
“I know he played there [in midfield] at the beginning of his career, and we are looking for a number 6 at this moment,” Menzo said. “He knows Pirates, so that’s why we started him against them there in that position. But again, if someone performs well in that position, why not?
“We want to play him a bit more defensively, more as a defensive player in front of my box. But let’s see how he goes and how he performs, and then we have to make a choice.”
Menzo went on to add that all of his players need to fight for a place in his squad, which he is more than willing to shuffle around in accordance with players who show promise on the training field.
“Everybody has to fight for his place,” he said. “If Brandon [Petersen, goalkeeper] starts becoming a good goalscorer at training and can score goals in the PSL, I will start him as a striker – that’s how I look at it. Sometimes it’s not just one plus one… sometimes you have to struggle to get where you want to.”
Following the postponement of their scheduled fixture against Mamelodi Sundowns midweek, Ajax next face Baroka FC in an away match-up on Saturday afternoon.