at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
For Mushin Ertugral, who spent so many years at the helm of Kaizer Chiefs, getting up the nose of Orlando Pirates can hardly be a novelty. And on Saturday afternoon, the Golden Arrows coach might just add fuel to the ire of the Buccaneers, if his side can halt Pirates’ Absa Premiership charge.
On a final day that promises plenty of tension, if Arrows can stop Pirates from winning in Durban, the league title will go to Moroka Swallows, provided they emerge victorious at Maritzburg United.
If Ertugral does feel extra motivation to stop the old foe from his time at Chiefs, however, he was in no mood to show it on Thursday.
“What are they saying about me down there?” he said with a chuckle, dead-batting references to his Amakhosi past.
What the Arrows coach can guarantee is that his side will give their utmost to contribute to the final day excitement.
“We can play a major role as a team, for us it is a game only of pride and dignity,” he said.
“I have heard a lot of things said, but we will play the type of football that makes us proud. We are not going into the game relaxed, every player wants to show himself and the boys will go out and do their best to try and win.”
Arrows do have a few Pirates loanees among their ranks, in the form of Robyn Johannes, Siphelele Mthembu and Clifford Ngobeni. Yet Ertugral implied that instead of this helping Pirates, it could just work against them.
“As a player … you want to prove a point, it is human nature,” said Ertugral.
“The boys are very much up for it, you can see it in the training sessions. No-one was injured this week, the physio’s room is empty.”
Injuries have, however, played their part in an inconsistent season for Arrows, who Ertugral joined in November, following the departure of Ernst Middendorp.
“The unlucky part of the season is injuries and suspensions, I have never seen so many broken bones in my life,” said Ertugral.
Only winger Philani Shange remains out, however, and Ertugral can take heart from the fact that Arrows have given Pirates a couple of decent contests this season, despite losing both the first round league game and the Telkom Knockout semi-final.
“Especially the cup game, it was unbelievable how we lost it,” said Ertugral.
Arrows led 1-0, but Siyabonga Sangweni equalised, before an awful Arrows mix-up at the back handed Pirates the initiative, and the Buccaneers went on to win 3-1.
“I have nightmares about what happened,” added Ertgural.
“But those are errors you can’t make in professional football.
“In the league game, up to the point they scored, I thought we could have gone into the lead, but this is football.”
Ertugral was full of credit for Pirates ahead of the weekend’s games, though he does believe there are areas to exploit.
“I think definitely in terms of material (Pirates have the best side). They are very strong and play a certain type of football that is very difficult to play against. They press you a lot and don’t allow you to play, though they do have a lot of weaknesses,” said the Arrows coach.
As for Swallows, Ertugral was also highly impressed with their rise to success, but he insisted that Arrows were playing this weekend for themselves and not Gordon Igesund’s Birds.
“Gordon has really done well to take a contender for relegation close to winning the title,” he said.
“But what happens with Swallows (at Maritzburg) is beyond our thinking. Swallows must look to win their own game in 90 minutes. We will have a full house, I hear the game is already sold out.
“It’s bad to say we want to spoil a party, but we will go out and play attractive offensive football … we will play to win, but not because we sympathise with Swallows.”
Either way, Ertugral is certainly hoping for a thrilling climax to the season. “We want to have a similar situation to last week in England,” he said. “Then people don’t need to go to the movies, they can see it on the field!” – The Star