Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

Returnee Booysen backs Ajax to avoid relegation

- RODNEY REINERS

MUHSIN ERTUGRAL’S top priority on returning to Ajax Cape Town for his fourth spell in charge of the club was to tighten things up at the back. While, overall, the club’s struggle had been the result of many factors, for the Turkish coach it was a case of making sure the defence was solid and that would, in turn, drive the team’s attacking abilities.

Improvemen­t has been steady and Ajax have certainly looked more solid since Ertugral’s arrival. In order to shore up the defence, and build an improved shape and structure, the coach changed things quite a bit, like shifting captain Mosa Lebusa from leftback to the centre of defence, introducin­g young Yagan Sasman on the left and signing the brilliant Siyanda Zwane at right-back. But, despite all the changes, the one constant in the team has been experience­d, 29-year-old centre-back Mario Booysen.

Booysen returned to the Mother City last year and he’s been a dependable presence in the defence. A leader, an organiser and aerially dominant, Booysen remains one of the first names on Ertugral’s team sheet.

Ajax are in Durban today to face Golden Arrows in a PSL fixture at the Princess Magogo Stadium (kick-off 3.15pm), and Booysen will again play an important role if the Cape side is to come away with a victory.

“It has been a while since we’ve played, we’ve had a twoweek break,” said Booysen. “But it’s given us time to work on a few aspects of our game.”Originally from Bonteheuwe­l, Booysen started his profession­al career at Ajax in 2007 before going on to play for Bloemfonte­in Celtic, Maritzburg United, SuperSport United and Sundowns. Last year he was back where it all started when he returned to Ajax as part of the deal that took Rivaldo Coetzee to Sundowns.

Booysen admits the team has been struggling, but he’s confident Ajax can turn it around.

“Our last game was the Nedbank Cup loss to Pirates and we’ve rectified some of the mistakes we made in that game. We’ve put it behind us – and, despite that loss, there is a good vibe in the team. We know what we are fighting for, our recent league form has been good and we just have to build on that.”

As for Arrows, the central defender insists there is no cause for disrespect.

“Arrows may be struggling, but we cannot under-estimate anyone we play against. We’ve seen in this league that results can go all sorts of ways. We just have to stick to our game plan. We know what Arrows can do, we know what they are about, but football is always about what you do on the day. We have to execute the plans we are working on at training, and make sure that we come away with the three points.”

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