Muhsin puts his faith in Ajax’s young guns
MUHSIN ERTUGRAL’s shrewd tactical approach and selection strategy will again be crucial when Ajax Cape Town take on Mpumalanga Black Aces in a PSL fixture in Nelspruit this afternoon (kick-off 3.30pm).
With quite a few players having returned from injury, the Ajax coach has a bigger pool from which to pick, unlike the situation a few weeks ago when he was left with barely 16 fit and available players.
Despite this, Ertugral relied heavily on his young brigade for Tuesday’s 1- 0 win over defending champions Kaizer Chiefs. It was a smart decision because the youthful vigour and sprightly attitude of the Cape club’s emerging youngsters proved far too much for Amakhosi to handle.
While lauding his young talent after the victory, Ertugral maintained his view that his players still needed to be nurtured and protected. He wasn’t about to play them every week and risk destroying their careers.
“For a few of these boys, this is their first season in the PSL,” said Ertugral. “They are good, but they are still adapting. This is a tough league.
“There are certain games in which we can play these kids, especially when facing teams who like to play passing football, like Chiefs. But, in other games, we have to keep them out, protect them. Proper selection is very important in developing these youngsters.”
While 19- year- old Abbubakar Mobara emerged as the name on everybody’s lips after the Chiefs win, with the combative midfielder putting in a top-class performance both in defence and attack, Ertugral also had some words of praise for substitute Tashreeq Morris, who came off the bench to head in the winning goal.
Morris was promoted from the under-19s at the beginning of the season and Ertugral is likely to use the striker in similar fashion – off the bench to build his experience – in many fixtures this season.
“Morris is a striker of class,” said Ertugral. “He is a player to watch, who will get even better as the season progresses.”
Today’s opponents, Aces, have had a solid start to the season after being promoted from the National First Division. In Clive Barker, the former Bafana Bafana coach, they have an experienced tactician and supreme motivator, who knows how to plot the downfall of opponents.
The Mpumalanga club has also signed some high-profile names to strengthen their squad this season, including two former Ajax stars in goalace Mabhuti Khenyeza and Brazilian defender Eduardo Ferreira.
Earlier this week, Barker added even more experience to his squad when he signed former Bafana skipper, Mbulelo Mabizela.
So, while Ajax may be riding a wave of optimism after picking up seven points in their last three games, they will have to tread cautiously when coming up against Aces this afternoon.
NEW BLOOD: Tashreeq Morris of Ajax came off the bench to score the winning goal for Ajax Cape Town in the 1-0 win over Kaizer Chiefs on Tuesday.