CAPE TOWN - Ajax Cape Town coach Muhsin Ertugral is so desperate to field Zimbabwean internationals Tendai Ndoro (striker) and Gerald Takawara (midfielder) for Tuesday's showdown with PSL log-leaders Mamelodi Sundowns that he would have had no problem getting up at the crack of dawn on Monday to queue outside of the Home Affairs offices to get his new signings’ work permits - and his own - sorted out.
Ajax need all the help they can get for their clash with the league pace-setters at Cape Town Stadium.
“Having Tendai and Gerald available would boost our chances significantly,” said Ertugral. “We need all the firepower we can muster.
“I also need my boys’ nerves to take a back seat. It was there to see again in our 2-1 home defeat to Maritzburg United on Friday night.
“They face an acid test and I just want them to see the meeting with a champion side as an opportunity to show what they’re really capable of.”
Can the Urban Warriors, who are second from bottom on the table, surprise the Brazilians who sit at the summit one point ahead of Cape Town City?
It seems unlikely on form so far this season; Ajax have bagged only three wins from 15 outings. But Sundowns also lost over the weekend away to Polokwane City, going down 3-2 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Ajax seem to be their own worst enemy. When they take the lead they go into defensive mode and end up finishing second-best, as was the case against Maritzburg after going 1-0 up early on.
And it was not the best defensive effort either, especially when drawn out wide. So this is an area of play that will come under the microscope against the pace-setters who have scored 25 goals - the most in the league.
Ertugral and his assistant Calvin Marlin have no time to address the inefficiencies affecting performance and will just be hoping their charges rise to the challenge of playing the league leaders.
❌ Tendai Ndoro 🇿🇼
❌ Gerald Takwara 🇿🇼
The Zimbabwean duo are still waiting on their respective work permits •
Confident they will be ready for Sundowns on Tuesday! #WeAreAjaxCT 🔴 pic.twitter.com/pezAe15pP3
Ertugral, in his fourth stint with the Parow-based club and with over 20 years of coaching experience, has gotten his team to focus on a specific style of passing but admits that this will take time to master. He wants to see his charges passing with confidence between the lines and doing so with an eye on what’s happening around them.
Patience is key, so too belief, and then to be more clinical in the final third. Ajax have only netted 11 times this season, the joint third lowest in the league - Wits, who are bottom of the log, have scored the least (seven).
There is no time to find the right combinations, something that the 58-year-old coach views as crucial.
New acquisition Fagrie Lakay, 20, made his debut against Maritzburg and set up a goal in what was a polished performance from the striker on loan from SuperSport United.
As for Ndoro, he’s itching to play.
“I love a challenge and that’s why I moved to the Mother City,” said the Zimbabwean. “I see how few goals the strikers in the league have netted and want to show them how it is done.
“I’m fit and raring to go. Obviously working again with Muhsin was the big motivator; he knows what I’m about from our days with Orlando Pirates and I just want to help him help the team move away from the danger zone."