It was only a matter of time for Mateza

Ajax Cape Towns latest PSL signing Luthando Mateza, in celebratory mood after his side clinched last years Engen under-17 Knockout Challenge.

Mateza is the latest in a long line of youngsters who have graduated from the club’s junior ranks to its PSL side.

Mateza’s promotion to Ajax Cape Town’s senior side is not really surprising, considering that the 18-year-old midfield kingpin has been a consistent feature in the club’s academy squads since his arrival at Ikamva in 2010.

Mateza will now join teammates Masilake Phohlongo, Sergio Kammies and Darren Johnson who were recently promoted to the first team after catching head coach Roger De Sa’s eye with their performances in the club’s under-19 side.

He has, over the years, shown that he was no ordinary player, as he helped his team to perform well.

At under-17 level, for instance, he showed an ability to strike a balance between his duties as a captain and maintaining consistency in his own game in the highly contested engine room.

He never succumbed to pressure or, at least, never made that too obvious as he always seemed to be in control.

This has also been a good year for the creative midfielder as he was part of the triumphant young Urban Warriors squad that won last month’s ESAD and the NextGen tournaments in Holland, beating Brazilian side Paranaens 6-4 on penalties and England’s Tottenham 2-0 in their respective finals.

Mateza also played a vital role in Ajax’s good run in this year’s Metropolitan under-19 Premier Cup tournament, which ended when they lost 1-0 to Supersport United in the final, at Erica Park in Belhar over the Easter weekend.

Those that followed him closely over the last few years will recognise that the youngster’s biggest asset is his “educated” left foot, which enables him to unlock even the tightest of defences with pin-point accuracy.

This has been a journey for Mateza. He slowly worked his way to the top and people started to take note when he almost single-handedly took the Ajax under-17 side to victory in the 2014 Coke Cup final.

The Young Urban Warriors beat a highly-talented Masidlale Academy side 2-0 in the final, with Mateza scoring both goals.

He was tightly marked in that game as the Nyanga players – most of whom were childhood friends with whom he grew up and played ball with – knew exactly what he was capable of.

That resulted in him not just scoring two goals but also producing a man-of-the-match performance.

He was at it again during last year’s Engen under-17 Knockout Challenge, leading his side to victory after beating Atlantic Nacional 3-1 in the final at Parow Park.

Wearing the legendary number 10 jersey, Mateza – who was also the captain of the side – stood head and shoulders above everyone in the competition, making things happen in the heart of the midfield with his excellent reading of the game.

It came as no surprise when he was named the tournament’s best midfielder and best player.

Despite not scoring in the final, his pin-point passing and trickery on the ball, forced his opponents to chase shadows all over the field.

The side went on to win the competition’s national championships, beating then champions Supersport United 3-0 in the final at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville. Mateza, once again, walked away with the player of the tournament award.

In as statement last week, Ajax said Mateza’s promotion to the first team couldn’t have come at a better time, as he was on top of his game.

“The 18-year-old left-footed playmaker excelled in every age group throughout the prestigious Ajax Cape Town youth ranks, developing beyond expectations, getting on the score sheet regularly and providing ample assists for his teammates – making Roger De Sa’s decision simple.”

De Sa described Mateza as a quality player and a good addition to the senior team.

“Luthando has come along very well with his progress throughout the youth ranks. The next six months are vital for Luthando, if he continues to develop on his path, he can definitely become the next Ajax star,’ said De Sa.