Ertugral’s narrow escape

2008-03-10 00:00

IF reports in the press are to be believed, Kaizer Chiefs coach Muhsin Ertugral might have survived the axe by the narrowest of margins.

The coach is believed to have been told before his Premier Soccer League game two weeks ago against the Ajax Cape Town team he coached last season that a defeat would mean his exit from Amakhosi.

Chiefs drew 1-1 at Athlone Stadium and Ertugral survived, and Sunday’s inspired last 25 minutes in the Amakhosi’s PSL game against Free State Stars, during which Chiefs scored all four of their goals in a 4-1 victory, is sure to have bought the coach a measure of breathing space.

Now Chiefs turn their focus to their Nedbank Cup last-32 game against PSL leaders Ajax at King’s Park in Durban on Friday night. And a season that was turning towards disappointing despite a victory in the Telkom Knockout in December still has the prospect of ending on a high with a season-ending trophy and R6 million first prize from Nedbank.

“Of course it would be good if we ended the season like I did at Ajax last season, with a trophy in the Nedbank Cup,” Ertugral told The Witness yesterday.

The coach led Ajax to a 2-0 win over Mamelodi Sundowns in the Absa Cup final last season, which has since been renamed the Nedbank Cup.

“This season, Chiefs have already won one trophy in the Telkom Knockout and to go to the final in the Nedbank would be great. Naturally it will not be easy because Ajax are really an on-song team.”

With Chiefs’ confidence-boosting victory on Sunday, and Ajax perhaps focused on their league title race, Chiefs might fancy their chances. Ertugral, though, is more cautious, saying he expects an all-out assault from his old team.

“Ajax take it game by game and they always go for a win in any competition. They went out in the first round of the Supa 8 and then in the Telkom too, so they will be looking to make amends.”

Asked if the victory over Stars has relieved the pressure on the coach, he replies: “No. That is a bit of a common question in South Africa, but, for me, I am not the sort of coach who wants to stay for five years in a coaching position.

“I am not afraid to take risks and try to play good football. I was asked to come to Kaizer Chiefs to try to help sort out a bad situation that the club was in last season and that is what I will try to do. To me, the win will help to stabilise the club, which is what we have tried to do from the beginning of the season, and it gives an opportunity to introduce new players who can make a difference to the team.

“And to try to play attractive football, which we have really done all season but we have often just been unfortunate that the goals have not gone in.”

Nedbank Cup last-32 fixtures

Tomorrow: Wits University v Winners Park (BidVest Stadium, 7.30 pm)

Friday: Kaizer Chiefs v Ajax Cape Town (King’s Park, 8 pm), FC Cape Town v Durban Stars (Blue Downs Stadium, 8 pm)

Saturday: Ikapa Sporting FC v Bloemfontein Celtic (Erica Park, 3 pm), Lamontville Golden Arrows v Jomo Cosmos (King Zwelithini, 3 pm), Peace Lovers/Classic v Vasco Da Gama (Venue not decided, 3 pm), Yebo Yes United v FC AK (Meadowlands Stadium, 3 pm), Inspection FC v Black Leopards (Embalenhle Stadium, 3 pm), Supersport United v Mamelodi Sundowns (Olympia Park, 7.30 pm), African Warriors v Moroka Swallows (Charles Mopeli, 8 pm)

Sunday: (all 3 pm) Free State Stars v Platinum Stars (Goble Park), Mpumalanga Black Aces v Thanda Royal Zulu FC (@lantic Stadium), AmaZulu v Young Ones (Princess Magogo), Matatiel Professionals v Bloemfontein Young Tigers (Thandanani Stadium), Nathi Lions v NW Shining Stars (King Zwelithini), Santos v Orlando Pirates (Athlone Stadium).

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