NFD 'novices' Roger, Muhsin poised for Cape derby

Muhsin Ertugral (Gallo Images)
Muhsin Ertugral (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Cape Town's five professional football clubs could soon stage their matches at Athlone Stadium - eight months after it closed temporarily for the pitch to be relaid.

As a result, Cape Town Stadium is currently the only available venue in Cape Town for all home matches.

The 55 000-seater is a shared home ground to Cape Town City and the four National First Division (NFD) clubs in the city: Ajax Cape Town, Cape Umoya United, Ubuntu Cape Town and Stellenbosch FC.

Ronnie Schloss, chief operating officer of the Premier Soccer League, told City Press this week that "Athlone would probably be ready next month".

The Mother City clubs - in particular, the four NFD sides - opened the new season with away fixtures last weekend because Cape Town Stadium was hosting Cape Town City's Absa Premiership fixture against Golden Arrows.

Because City staged their MTN8 semi-final first-leg match against Mamelodi Sundowns at the 2010 World Cup venue on Saturday, the next NFD fixture between Umoya and Ajax will be played in the middle of the week.

READ: CT City take crucial MTN8 1st leg lead over Sundowns

The first Cape derby of the campaign will feature former Premiership coaches Roger De Sá and Muhsin Ertugral at Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday.

The game is set to kick off at 3pm, and will conclude the round of NFD fixtures from this weekend.

"Obviously, it's a challenge that we have one stadium," said De Sá, Umoya's coach and a co-owner of the newly formed club.

"There is nothing we can do about the fact that our game is going to be played on a Tuesday afternoon. But Cape Town Stadium has such a good surface, and I am looking forward to a great game against Ajax."

Umoya opened their campaign with a 1-1 draw against TS Galaxy in Mpumalanga last Sunday, while Ajax scored a 2-1 win over Jomo Cosmos in Tembisa.

De Sá (53) and Ertugral, who turns 59 next month, said they were enjoying their first-time experience in the second-tier league so far.

"It's a learning curve - new club, a new beginning and the NFD is a different setup. But so far, so good because we are trying to get a good balance in our team with experienced and young players."

De Sá, a former Ajax coach, warned that Ajax were not a familiar foe, as many would expect.

"I know some of the youngsters from the time when I was there (2014 to 2016), but it’s quite a different team under Muhsin - and they are not playing much of the Ajax style (of Dutch influence) either," said De Sá.

Among his experienced players, De Sá has former Orlando Pirates midfielder Manti Mekoa and former Ajax striker Nathan Paulse, who the coach yanked out of retirement a fortnight ago. Paulse scored in the draw against TS Galaxy.

Meanwhile, Ertugral is also poised for what he said would be a "very difficult game".

"I have been preparing the team for two and a half months, and it was difficult for the boys as, just six months ago, they were seventh in the Absa Premiership," said the Turkish-born mentor.

"The win against Cosmos helped the boys to gain confidence, and we are fully concentrating on trying to get the team back to the top league.

"Umoya has a couple of former Ajax players and we’ll see how they measure our strength," added Ertugral in reference to his former players Paulse and Roscoe Petersen.

With Ajax campaigning in the lower ranks, the Mother City will experience only local derbies in the second-tier league this season.

The Urban Warriors will follow Tuesday's game with another Cape derby against Stellenbosch on Saturday.

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