Ajax must show they can hold own

Pretoria News - - SPORT & RACING - MIKE DE BRUYN

AJAX CAPE TOWN are bot­tom of the PSL stand­ings, a fact that con­demns them to the sta­tus of “the poor­est team in the league”.

But it is far from a train smash, as the Ur­ban War­riors still have 14 games left to avoid rel­e­ga­tion to the NFD.

The Parow-based team were sec­ond bot­tom be­fore base­ment dwellers and de­fend­ing league cham­pi­ons Wits leapfrogged them by a point to 15th place with a rare win at home, beat­ing Su­perS­port United 2-0 on Wed­nes­day night. It was bad news in­deed for an Ajax out­fit bat­tling to win them­selves.

Two de­feats this year, both home fix­tures, in­side six days un­der new coach Muhsin Er­tu­gral could be­come three in a row if Plat­inum Stars beat Ajax at Cape Town Sta­dium tonight (8pm kick­off).

Stars, like Ajax, have only won three times this sea­son. Last time out the North West Prov­ince-based team lost 1-0 to sec­ond­placed Cape Town City who got the win­ner five min­utes from time, show­ing that they are not a bad team.

Nor are Ajax, it’s just that their play­ers don’t know how to hold onto a lead. They were 1-0 up in their last two en­coun­ters and then old bad habits that have plagued their cam­paign sur­faced and re­sulted in de­feat.

The play­ers are suf­fer­ing from a de­fen­sive mind­set, nerves and self-doubt.

Hence Er­tu­gral’s re­turn to Ik­mava for a fourth stint. The 58-year-old Turk­ish-born coach has a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence gained over 30 years, and he takes no non­sense from his charges in his drive for to­tal com­mit­ment.

It’s his way or the high­way.

He is de­ter­mined that the play­ers do things his way, which is based on re­tain­ing pos­ses­sion and be­ing in the right places at the right time.

As for tech­ni­cal abil­ity, he said: “Foot­ball in South Africa is too quick and lacks tech­ni­cal abil­ity.”

So read into that what you will – he has coached six dif­fer­ent clubs in the PSL.

So for sure his charges will want to show they are de­cent play­ers who can hold their own at the top level. There have been signs of prom­ise, but there is still a long way to go.

Er­tu­gral has his work cut out for him with the key ar­eas of con­cern be­ing oneon-one mark­ing in de­fence, player move­ment cou­pled with com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the build-ups, and then, of vi­tal im­por­tance, of­fen­sive nous.

Do we need re­mind­ing that the Ur­ban War­riors have only net­ted 12 times.

So will the coach field his two new strik­ers against Stars?

Word from a club source is pos­si­bly. That would see a first ap­pear­ance for 32-year-old Zim­bab­wean in­ter­na­tional Tendai Ndoro in part­ner­ship with 20-year-old Fa­grie Lakay, who scored in his sec­ond start against Mamelodi Sun­downs on Tues­day in a 2-1 de­feat.

Also likely to fea­ture are an­other two sign­ings in the form of mid­fielder Ger­ald Tak­wara, 23, an­other Zim­babwe in­ter­na­tional, and 26-year-old at­tack­ing mid­fielder Sa­muel Julies who is on a loan from Chippa United.

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