Ajax face tricky Maritzburg test

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Mushin Ertugrals parental and coaching skills will be tested even more when Ajax host Maritzburg United at the Cape Town Stadium. Photo by Manus van Dyk/Gallo Images

Like any caring parent, Muhsin Ertugral has had to cajole, encourage, urge and, eventually, berate his young Ajax Cape Town squad into action.

After a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Moroka Swallows at home recently, the Ajax coach was far from happy. He expressed his anger in no uncertain terms and demanded more from his under-performing team. The hard words paid off immediately, with the Capetonians going to Atteridgeville for their next fixture and pulling off their first away win of the season – 2-1 over SuperSport United last Tuesday.

Now Ertugral’s parental and coaching skills will be tested even more when Ajax host Maritzburg United at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday night (8pm). It has become almost common for the Cape side to follow a good performance with an indifferent, inferior one – and the coach is sure to impress on his men the desperate need for consistency.

In Maritzburg, Ajax face a tricky, unpredictable team. The KwaZulu-Natal side is capable of big performances on any given day, especially as they have some big players in their squad, including goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters, Ghanaian striker Yakubu Mohammed and former Bafana Bafana midfielders Delron Buckley and Dillon Sheppard.

Maritzburg also have a host of Capetonians in their squad – David Booysen, Mario Booysen, Peter Petersen, Robyn Johannes, Ashley Hartog and Walters – and they will be relishing the trip back home to the Mother City.

With new coach Clinton Larsen gradually finding his feet at his new club, it’s only a matter of time before his influence rubs off on his players.

Maritzburg come off a 1-0 loss to Orlando Pirates, but they were far from disgraced in that outing. They will definitely provide Ajax with stern competition on Friday.

Having been in charge for about a month, Larsen has confidence in the talent at his new club.

“I have had time to have a good look at the squad,” said Larsen. “I have been pleased with the way they have responded to my methods. It will take time for the players to understand my style, but we are making progress.

“I want to see us playing a positive, attacking brand of football, but within the framework of a disciplined and organised structure.” - Cape Argus

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