CAPE TOWN - Ajax Cape Town picked up three more valuable points in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Baroka FC at the Athlone Stadium - to make it seven points in the last three games - but the battle is far from over.
Ajax are still to play Mamelodi Sundowns at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Saturday (kickoff 3pm) - and then Kaizer Chiefs at home will be the final game of the season. With things desperately tight at the bottom, the race for PSL survival will definitely go down to the last day of the campaign.
Next up for Ajax, though, is a really tough encounter against log-leaders Sundowns. The club’s head coach, Muhsin Ertugral, said he was targeting four points in the team’s last two games.
“We will see if we can do it (four points),” he said. “We have to give it a go because it is important that Ajax stay in the PSL. We will now regroup and prepare for Sundowns. After such a tense game (against Baroka), in which everybody played with heart, we will have to see who’s available.
“Sundowns are a great side, though. How they play is unbelievable. I have great respect for them. They are not easy to play against and we will have to find a way to stop them.”
As for Tuesday, it was a forgettable encounter. Forget the low quality, the shoddy control, the poor finishing and the disjointed nature of the game - instead focus on the most important aspect demonstrated in spades by the Cape side: character.
Considering Ajax’s precarious log position, the fixture was never going to be a classic; it was always going to be an ugly scrap for points. It turned out that way, with Baroka playing their part in offering a dour yet effective counter-attack strategy that proved problematic for the Capetonians. But, and all credit to Ajax, they found a way to win. That is the only thing that matters; how it’s accomplished is secondary. The points, as they say, are on the board.
They left it late, though. Having struggled for most of the match, the game finally started to open up towards the end, and Ajax squandered a host of inviting opportunities. But, in the dying moments, captain Mosa Lebusa was in the right place, at the right time, to head in a winner that could prove crucial in the Cape club’s fight for PSL safety.
Ertugral had huge praise for his players.
“I nearly gave up when Sirgio (Kammies) missed that chance,” said Ertugral after the young substitute’s scuffed shot in front of goal near the end. “After that miss, I thought to myself, ‘It’s just not going in’.
"At that point, we had three or four clear chances I really felt for my players. But they never gave up, they showed character, and from what they put in you can see how much they want to stay in this league.
“I thought early on in the game the players were just too anxious, which is why they struggled. But I work with them at training all the time and I can see how they have grown as a team. The discipline is there, they work very hard, and what they have done in the last few weeks is amazing.”