By John Goliath
Ajax Cape Town chief executive George Comitis is hoping striker Mabhudi Khenyeza and new coach Muhsin Ertugral can smoke the peace pipe when they return to the club next month.
As expected, Ertugral was officially appointed as the Urban Warriors' head coach on Monday. The former Kaizer Chiefs mentor, who replaces Craig Rosslee, has signed a three-year contract.
Khenyeza and Ertugral have a history of not getting along. The striker left Chiefs for Ajax before the start of the past season following a fall-out with the fiery Turk.
Now it seems as if Khenyeza may also want to quit the Cape club due to Ertugral's imminent return. Khenyeza has publically stated that he does not want to work with Ertugral and will ask to be allowed to leave.
However, Comitis is hoping the two can resolve their differences before the team gather on June 16 to start their preparations for the new season.
"I'm hoping they can sort out their issues and make peace," the Ajax chief executive said. "If they can manage to work together in 2010 it will definitely be good for the club.
"Mabhudi has been our top scorer in 2009 and has been wonderful for us. We want him to stay and he still has two years left on his contract. We don't want to see him move on."
He added: "If things can't be sorted out then we might look to offload the player. But that will only be done if we can get a suitable replacement for him."
Ertugral will start his second stint at the club he led to an Absa Cup triumph in 2007 in the first week of June. Because he is very familiar to the players he should hit the ground running.
"Muhsin needs no introduction to the local fans and his record speaks for itself," Comitis said. "He is a true professional and a well-organised individual who will bring vast experience and success to our club in the future.
"He has a strong belief in the development of youth and vast knowledge of the PSL and other African leagues, our competitors and their players. In this season preceding the 2010 World Cup, it is imperative that we get off the starting blocks positively as this will be a short, tough and compact campaign."
The names of Ertugral's assistants will be announced later this week but it is expected that former Bafana Bafana stalwarts Hans Vonk and Shaun Bartlett will be working with him.
Each has achieved success under the Turkish-born coach in the past.
Ajax will let five or six players go later in May. It is expected that some foreigners will be released from their contracts while others will be put on the transfer list.
Comitis has, however, promised that they won't look to sell their best players, unlike at the start of the past season which eventually saw the club failing to maintain their league challenge after having led the pack at the mid-season break.
"We are keen to keep this squad together," he said. "We will also be looking to strengthen it with a few more signings. We are also expecting a couple of trialists in the first week of June."
Early in June the Urban Warriors will travel to the Netherlands, where they will play four matches, including one against Ajax Amsterdam on June 4.