Marlin hoping his Ajax players do not continue to buckle under pressure

Calvin Marlin (Interim Head Coach) chats with players during the GladAfrica Championship match between Ajax Cape Town and Richards Bay at Rand Stadium on August 12, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Calvin Marlin (Interim Head Coach) chats with players during the GladAfrica Championship match between Ajax Cape Town and Richards Bay at Rand Stadium on August 12, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Gavin Barker/Gallo Images/BackpagePix

Ajax Cape Town coach Calvin Marlin has called for calm in his dressing room after two successive defeats in the GladAfrica Championship threatened to derail their automatic promotion push.

The Urban Warriors led by a convincing seven-points margin when football was suspended in March due to Covid-19 but they have struggled to regain form with one win and two losses since the season resumed.

They restarted with a 1-0 win over Richards Bay FC but their march was brought to a screeching halt by successive 1-0 defeats to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) and Swallows FC.

Second-placed Swallows FC have reduced their lead to only three points and are now making life very uncomfortable for the Cape side. TTM are in third place.

“I have spoken to the players to stay calm and be clear in their thinking because if you do that‚ you are able to react to challenges better‚” said Marlin‚ who won the league title with Mamelodi Sundowns as a player.

“Maybe they are under pressure as a result of over-thinking things because when we resumed we had a good lead at the top of the log‚” he said.

Marlin said his charges have lost their sharpness in front of goal and this contributed to their two successive defeats to TTM and Swallows. He hopes his players will regain their edge when they face University of Pretoria (Tuks) on Saturday.

“We are battling to score goals at the moment. Is it about confidence?

"That’s the question we have posed to the players. I don’t understand why they are being negative all of a sudden because they played with confidence before the break.

"We have showed in the past that we can score goals and we can win matches. We are three points clear at the top of the log but we don’t want a situation where someone closes in on us and we are under pressure.”

The good news for Marlin going into the match against Tuks is that influential and Sundowns-bound midfielder Grant Margeman is available for selection.

“Every team has that type of player who makes them tick and Grant is that type of player for us. He creates the spark for us and his availability is a massive boost for us because he makes things happen. Obviously we value the contribution of all the players in our squad but he creates the spark for us.”

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