Muhsin puts his faith in Ajax’s young guns

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - ROD­NEY REIN­ERS

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.

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