CAPE TOWN – Ajax Cape Town coach Muhsin Ertugral is very clear about his reasoning with regard to the controversial Tendai Ndoro situation. As far as the Turk is concerned, the Zimbabwean striker is currently clear to play, until a different decision is handed down.
As such, when Ajax face Orlando Pirates in a Nedbank Cup last 32 clash at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto tomorrow night (8.15pm), Ertugral insists that Ndoro will play, irrespective of what so-called commentators may think. The Cape side’s coach has absolutely no concern about the eligibility of Ndoro.
Yes, he says, there are currently issues around the player who has, against FIFA rules, played for three clubs this season - Pirates Saudi Arabia’s Al Faisaly and Ajax. But until another decision is forthcoming the Zimbabwean is available for selection. As it stands, Ndoro has been cleared by the PSL’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) and the matter has since been taken on appeal. It is set for an arbitration hearing at the SA Football Association.
For Ertugral, this is the reasoning: “The DRC’s decision was that we can play Ndoro so that is what I have to work with. If a later decision comes that I cannot play him, then I will respect that decision, and not play him. But (now), I have to play my best team, and that includes Ndoro.”
Ajax defeated Pirates 3-0 in a league match last week, with the Soweto side protesting against the inclusion of the Zimbabwean. Subsequent to that, Ajax drew 1-1 with Polokwane City, where the opposition again protested Ndoro’s name on the team sheet. Rest assured, when Ajax tackle the Buccaneers again tomorrow, the protests will continue.
As for the on-field plans against Pirates tomorrow, Ertugral is fully aware that Pirates are hurting after the league defeat.
“They dominated possession against us the last time, but still lost,” said Ertugral. “So this time they will come at us again, but I’m sure they will be a lot more cautious. It will be a different game, that’s for sure.
“This time around, it’s going to be all about mentality. In Micho (Pirates’ Milutin Sredojevi), they have very good coach. He has a great football personality, I know him very well.
We’ve always shared football thoughts in the past and I think he has got the team to a level where they can challenge for anything. Given more time, Pirates will be successful under Micho. Playing in Orlando is not going to easy, we know this is going to be a difficult cup game.”
Ertugral, though, is keeping his cards close to his chest with regard to his approach and team selection. Ivory Coast striker Yannick Zakri, captain Mosa Lebusa and goalkeeper Brandon Petersen are all battling injury, so the Ajax coach has some key decisions to make. The good thing for Ertugral, however, is that the team now has great depth.
“I have quite a few strikers to call on now,” he said.