JOHANNESBURG – Ajax Cape Town are bottom of the PSL standings, a fact that condemns them to the status of “the poorest team in the league”.
But it is far from a train smash, as the Urban Warriors still have 14 games left to avoid relegation to the NFD.
The Parow-based team were second bottom before basement dwellers and defending league champions Wits leapfrogged them by a point to 15th place with a rare win at home, beating SuperSport United 2-0 on Wednesday night. It was bad news indeed for an Ajax outfit battling to win themselves.
Two defeats this year, both home fixtures, inside six days under new coach Muhsin Ertugral could become three in a row if Platinum Stars beat Ajax at Cape Town Stadium tonight (8pm kickoff).
Stars, like Ajax, have only won three times this season. Last time out the North West Province-based team lost 1-0 to second-placed Cape Town City who got the winner five minutes from time, showing that they are not a bad team.
Nor are Ajax, it’s just that their players don’t know how to hold onto a lead. They were 1-0 up in their last two encounters and then old bad habits that have plagued their campaign surfaced and resulted in defeat.
The players are suffering from a defensive mindset, nerves and self-doubt.
Hence Ertugral’s return to Ikmava for a fourth stint. The 58-year-old Turkish-born coach has a wealth of experience gained over 30 years, and he takes no nonsense from his charges in his drive for total commitment.
It’s his way or the highway.
He is determined that the players do things his way, which is based on retaining possession and being in the right places at the right time.
As for technical ability, he said: “Football in South Africa is too quick and lacks technical ability.”
So read into that what you will - he has coached six different clubs in the PSL.
So for sure his charges will want to show they are decent players who can hold their own at the top level. There have been signs of promise, but there is still a long way to go.
Ertugral has his work cut out for him with the key areas of concern being one-on-one marking in defence, player movement coupled with communication in the build-ups, and then, of vital importance, offensive nous.
Do we need reminding that the Urban Warriors have only netted 12 times.
So will the coach field his two new strikers against Stars?
Word from a club source is possibly. That would see a first appearance for 32-year-old Zimbabwean international Tendai Ndoro in partnership with 20-year-old Fagrie Lakay, who scored in his second start against Mamelodi Sundowns on Tuesday in a 2-1 defeat.
Also likely to feature are another two signings in the form of midfielder Gerald Takwara, 23, another Zimbabwe international, and 26-year-old attacking midfielder Samuel Julies who is on a loan from Chippa United.