The Urban Warriors are keen to change this state of affairs when they tackle Bloemfontein Celtic at the Dr Molemela Stadium this afternoon (kick-off 3.30pm). Coach Muhsin Ertugral’s philosophy has finally taken root with the squad and he is confident his team can come away with something positive from their journey to the Free State.
While the Turkish coach is still ecstatic after Ajax’s fantastic performance in defeating SuperSport United 2-0 at Athlone on Wednesday, he also pointed to last week’s away loss to Golden Arrows as something to consider. The Capetonians may have lost in Durban, for yet another away disappointment, but there was enough in the performance for Ertugral to take heart that they can alter their form on the road.
The midweek result eased Ajax away from the bottom-two on the PSL standings - but, because of how tight things are with regard to points, they are still far from secure. Ertugral believes the team needs at least another two wins from their remaining seven games to ensure the club’s safety. He wants the team to perform better away from home - and he is hoping they can put one over Celtic.
“The win (against SuperSport) is a great relief from the pressure,” said Ertugral. “But I’ve always said that I am here to help the club get out of the trouble they are in – and we are pretty much there. Two more wins and we should be safe.
“Now we have to get the victory away from home,” added the Turkish coach.
“We have the organisation and we have the elements. Morne Nel is back, Rodrick Kabwe offers us something down the left and Yannick Zakri gives the team something special. After last weekend’s defeat to Golden Arrows, the players were down, but then to play like they did against SuperSport on Wednesday was fantastic.”
Ertugral was particularly happy with the contribution of Ivorian Zakri and Mitchell’s Plain midfielder Nel.
Zakri has made a huge impact since arriving on loan from Mamelodi Sundowns. He was out injured for a while, but his return to the starting team on Wednesday galvanised the squad. Nel has long been touted as a player to watch. From the Old Mutual Academy, he signed for SuperSport and subsequently went on trial at Tottenham Hotspur in England. Things haven’t really gone his way over the last two years and a long-term injury compounded his problems. But he’s back now - he made his debut for Ajax in midweek and added a lot more composure and solidity to the team.
“Zakri is able to hold on to the ball and take players on. It frees up others in the team. With this element, he will be able to help us during away games,” said Ertugral.
“Nel knows where to go and where not to go. He has quality and is always in the right areas.”
Today: Bloemfontein Celtic v Ajax Cape Town, Polokwane City v Golden Arrows (both 3.30pm kick-offs)