Goalie key to Ajax

2015-08-13 06:00

AS Ajax Cape Town prepare to face in-form BidVest Wits for a second time in a week in their first-leg MTN8 semi-final in Stellenbosch on Saturday, they will again rely on their last line of defence in what is a difficult tie for Roger de Sa’s side.

Finnish goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola has started the season well again, having been arguably the most consistent gloveman in the Premier Soccer League since arriving

at the Urban Warriors in 2013.

He has been nominated for PSL Goalkeeper of the Season in his first two campaigns in the country, losing out to Itumeleng Khune and Moeneeb Josephs, and is a key component of this young Ajax side again this year.

After a journeyman career prior to his arrival in South Africa, Jaakkola has finally found both a footballing home and a place where he feels comfortable raising his young family. “I like it here and so does my family,” Jaakkola told TAB Sports Express after signing a new two-year contract extension at Ajax prior to this season.

“I had a few other options open to me, but Ajax presented the best package as a club,” Jaakkola added when talking about his decision to join the team two years ago.

“It is a big club, very professional and well organised with great facilities. It was a good move for me and that’s why I decided to come here.”

He has received good support in his two years at Ikamva, first from former goalkeeper coach Sander Westerveld, who has since returned to the Netherlands.

And latterly from head coach Roger de Sa, himself a former goalkeeper who won a single cap for South Africa but also had a stellar career in the South African top-flight with Moroka Swallows and Wits University. Jaakkola started his career with Finland side TP-47, and was late snapped up by then Italian Serie A side Siena, such was his promise as a junior international for his country. He was only 19 at the time and although he never quite made the grade in Italy, making just a single appearance for Siena, it was an experience he enjoyed.

He moved to Czech side Slavia Prague in 2010, and after a single season joined Scottish Premier League club Kilmarnock, then under the management of fellow Finn Mixu Paatelainen.

He helped the team into a cup final, but was in and out of the side with his contract not renewed when it expired in 2013. Then Ajax coach Muhsin Ertugral, a friend of Paatelainen, took the keeper on the recommendation of the ex-Finland international. “We spoke about the player often,”

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