Johannesburg - As Ajax Cape Town begin a new life in the National First Division (NFD) today, one of the difficulties faced by their coach has been to get his young players over their demotion.
Having completed this task, the Turkey-born Muhsin Ertugral believes his team has had a decent pre-season in the build-up to their season opener against Jomo Cosmos at Vosloorus Stadium in Ekurhuleni this afternoon.
“It was difficult to convince the boys to accept the demotion because they had big ambitions playing in the top league,” Ertugral told City Press.
“We are over this now and the boys are ready [for today].
“It will be nice to meet Jomo on the field after a very long time. He has a great personality, but we know he is going to compete fiercely,” noted Ertugral, adding that Ajax had beefed up their squad with a few new additions to the core of the team from last season.
“We have a couple of new players, but we have kept the core of the team from last season. We are moulding the team to get back to the Premier League.”
Some of Ajax’s acquisitions include former Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Raymond Monama, who has been handed the number 10 jersey.
The Capetonians also attempted to sign former Orlando Pirates midfielder Issa Sarr, but Ajax could not meet his salary demands, Ertugral said.
Jomo Sono, on the other hand, has had his pre-season preparations overshadowed by nonpayment of player salaries, something he admitted to City Press last week.
The financial challenges led to his overhauling his squad and 28 players were let go in the off-season.
“I have a completely new team and none of my boys has experience,” said Sono, who missed out on the Absa Premiership promotion after falling short in the play-offs in June.
Ezenkosi were relegated to the NFD two seasons ago.
For Ajax, this will be the first time since their formation in 1999 – after the merge of Cape Town Spurs and Seven Stars – that the Urban Warriors are competing in the second-tier league.
It was after several futile court attempts that Ajax accepted their fate to go down.
They withdrew their bid to interdict the start of the new campaign in the case relating to their former striker Tendai Ndoro’s eligibility to play.
Another former Premiership coach, Roger De Sá, will also turn out in the NFD this afternoon with Cape Umoya United against fellow rookies TS Galaxy of Mpumalanga.