Cape Town – There was a bit of verbal jousting between Ajax Cape Town coach Muhsin Ertugral and Mamelodi Sundowns counterpart Pitso Mosimane after a 2-2 draw on Tuesday night.
An innocent question about Sundowns’ injuries turned into a bit of an argument about the influence of money in the sport.
Mosimane got a little defensive when Ertugral explained to him that Ajax’s injury situation is a lot worse than the Brazilians’ because of the vast amount of players the Pretoria club have on their books.
The battle went a little like this: “Muhsin is complaining about injuries, we also have lots of injuries at the moment,” Mosimane said towards the end of the press conference.
“Well Pitso, I don’t have that money. I play with chickens,” Ertugral interrupted.
Mosimane then hit back: “It’s not about money, the game is about 11 v 11.”
Of course football is about “11 v 11”. But Ertugral makes a valid point when he says he only has “chickens” to pick from. And those youngsters put in a top performance against a team full of internationals on Tuesday night.
Ajax’s engineroom featured two teenagers who regularly overshadowed their more seasoned counterparts. Abbubaker Mobara and Bantu Mzwakali were immense and showed that they have the technical ability and skill to perform at this level.
“These kids are future national-team players, and they showed that against big players. We are struggling with lots of injuries at the moment, but these players are stepping up,” Ertugral said.
“But they need time and we must be patient with them. You don’t become a seasoned professional overnight, but the signs are certainly there.”
Mosimane, though, did admit that he has a bit more stress because he does have such a stellar squad. But he added that it’s up to them to prove they deserve to be in the starting line-up. “A team like Sundowns is the same like Pirates and Chiefs; there will be internationals on the bench. It’s like that at Chelsea and Madrid also,” he said.
“It’s not for me to keep everyone happy, they must show me they deserve a chance to play. I don’t have any favourites – if you take your chance, you play.
“It’s a big team with lots of expectation, and it’s not easy. Coaches are under stress. It’s not an easy life to be a coach, it’s difficult.”
Ajax haven’t broken their duck in the wins column this season, with two draws from four matches. They travel to Polokwane on Saturday to face newly-promoted Polokwane City, who parted ways with coach Duncan Lechesa this week.
Ex-Maritzburg and Santos coach Ian Palmer is set to take over at Polokwane, but Ertugral is not taking the Limpopo team lightly. “There are no easy games in the PSL, and we are going to respect them.”