Ajax knows all to well that Kaizer Chiefs will not be handing out freebies in final league clash
Football often has a way of dishing up a devilish twist of irony – and it’s no different when the PSL gears up for an exciting final day of action on May 12. Muhsin Ertugral has always had a special affiliation with Kaizer Chiefs, the club that first brought him to South Africa in 1999. Now, as football’s latest quirk of fate would have it, Chiefs are standing in the way of Ertugral-coached Ajax Cape Town’s bid for PSL safety.
Ajax host Chiefs on the final day of the season at the Cape Town Stadium next Saturday (kickoff 3pm). To avoid having to enter a difficult, unpredictable play-off campaign against two determined and highly motivated National First Division clubs, the Cape side simply has to win against Chiefs. Anything else would be disastrous.
Ertugral is fully aware of the scenario – but, because the fixture is at home, in the Mother City, the 58-year-old Turkey-born coach is quietly confident his team – placed 15th on the 16-team PSL log – can pull it off. He also knows that, if they beat Chiefs, the club will secure its status as a PSL club.
“Yes, we know how important the game is,” said Ertugral. “But the point to hold on to is that we have been very good at home. Our form is stable and performances have been positive in our home games. When I came in as coach, things were a bit bumpy, but it has looked good in recent weeks. The only problem is that I haven’t been able to find the key away from home – I think the boys have just been freezing in away games.
“But we have been handed a lifeline – and, if we win against Chiefs, we will be safe. That is all we need as motivation.”
Amakhosi come off a 2-0 win over the in-form Maritzburg United, which is an indication that Ajax will have to be at their best next week.
If anybody understands the culture at Chiefs, it’s Ertugral. He had two stints at Chiefs – 1999-2003 and 2007-2009 – and he will always have a special place in his heart for the club.
“At Chiefs, there is always pressure,” said Ertugral. “I’ve been involved there before and I understand that expectation is always very high at the club.
“So they have promised their fans a victory – I know that I cannot expect a gift. We will have to go out and work hard to win the match.”