Ajax Cape Town production line keeps producing players

22 August 2017 - 13:11 By Nick Said
Rivaldo Coetzee during the Absa Premiership match between Ajax Cape Town and Golden Arrows at Cape Town Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Rivaldo Coetzee during the Absa Premiership match between Ajax Cape Town and Golden Arrows at Cape Town Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Bertram Malgas/Gallo Images

Rivaldo Coetzee’s move to Glasgow Celtic is another feather in the cap of the Ajax Cape Town development structures that must rank as the best in the country given the number of players they have produced for the local and international market.

Ajax announced on Monday that they had agreed a fee with Celtic for the 20-year-old Bafana Bafana defender‚ who will now complete the transfer this week subject to a medical and work permit application.

The Scottish Premier League may not be among the best domestic competitions in Europe‚ but it has over the years provided an excellent platform for players to showcase their ability to clubs from the big five leagues on the continent.

The Urban Warriors’ mandate as a club‚ handed down by 51 percent co-owner Ajax Amsterdam‚ is to produce young players for the European market and despite a hit-and-miss record‚ they have done that comfortably more than any other South African side.

TimesLIVE looks at the players they have developed who have gone on to play in Europe‚ mostly with success.

STEVEN PIENAAR - Played at: Ajax Amsterdam (NED)‚ Borussia Dortmund (GER)‚ Everton‚ Tottenham Hotspur‚ Sunderland (all ENG) Ajax’s greatest export was their first‚ with Pienaar becoming a genuine star on the European scene‚ most notably in Amsterdam and at Everton.

He has since returned in the twilight of his career to play for BidVest Wits this season.

STANTON LEWIS - Played at: Ajax Amsterdam (NED)

Striker Lewis left for Amsterdam in the 2006/07 season but never played a first team game for the side in his two-and-a-half seasons there.

He later returned to Cape Town and also played at Kaizer Chiefs‚ AmaZulu‚ Lamontville Golden Arrows and Chippa United before being struck down by injury.

DAYLON CLAASEN - Played at: Ajax Amsterdam (NED)‚ Lierse (BEL)‚ Lech Poznań (POL)‚ 1860 Munich (GER)

Claasen never quite hit the heights many had expected of him‚ but had a solid enough career in Europe that was at times disrupted through injury.

He twice missed out on moves to the English Premiership because of these.

Like Pienaar‚ he is now back in South Africa at Wits but still potentially entering the prime of his career at the age of 27.

BRYCE MOON - Played at: Panathinaikos‚ PAOK (both GRE)

Moon was a product of the SAFA School of Excellence who later joined the Ajax academy and after three fine seasons in the PSL joined Greek giants Panathinaikos in 2008‚ and later PAOK.

There is no doubt his career was affected by the incident in which a pedestrian was killed by the car Moon was driving in 2009 and soon afterwards he returned to South Africa to play for Golden Arrows‚ SuperSport United‚ BidVest Wits and most recently Maritzburg United.

EYONG ENOH - Played at: Ajax Amsterdam (NED)‚ Fulham (ENG)‚ Antalyaspor (TUR)‚ Standard Liege (BEL)

Although not a product of the Ajax youth system‚ Cameroon midfielder developed quickly at the club after arriving from Turkish/Cypriot side Türk Ocağı Limasol in 2006.

He had a fine stay in Amsterdam‚ played in the English Premier League at Fulham and is a free agent after leaving top Belgian outfit Standard Liege at the end of last season.

THULANI SERERO - Played at: Ajax Amsterdam‚ Vitesse Arnhem (both NED)

Serero was for a time a key man at Amsterdam before the club’s policy of promoting youth meant that even at the age of 26 he was viewed as over the hill.

He can be proud of his achievements with the side over six seasons after joining in 2011‚ and is currently rebuilding his reputation at Vitesse Arnhem‚ where he has started the new season superbly well.

SEYDOUBA SOUMAH - Played at: FC Nitra‚ Slovan Bratislava (both SLO)‚ Al-Qadsia (KUW)‚ Partizan Belgrade (SER)

Soumah’s story is a remarkable one.

He was spotted as a 13-year-old juggling a ball by then Ajax owner John Comitis while the club were at an away CAF clash in Guinea and was brought to Cape Town.

He had various loan spells away from the club‚ before joining FC Nitra in Slovakia in 2012.

He was an instant hit in that country and signed for giants Slovan Bratislava where he became the key man in the side.

He has recently taken another step up to Partizan Belgrade for this season and scored in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers against Olympiakos earlier this month.

Other current players that Ajax have developed who have gone on to star in the Premier Soccer League‚ and in Europe via other domestic clubs‚ include Cole Alexander‚ Nazeer Allie‚ Khama Billiat‚ Franklin Cale‚ Clayton Daniels‚ Thulani Hlatshwayo‚ Moeneeb Josephs‚ George Maluleka‚ Lebogang Manyama and Granwald Scott.

- TimesLIVE