Absa Premiership

Muhsin Ertugral is the PSL's Claudio Ranieri

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

Cape Town - There is a physical resemblance - not to mention the subtle dry humour - between the two engaging soccer coaches who have recently defied all the odds.

And many are now viewing 56-year-old Muhsin Ertugral as "the PSL's Claudio Ranieri" because of the similarity in which Black Aces have been elevated to the status of a league champion contender to the rise of Leicester City in topping the English Premiership.

Neither Turkish-born Ertugral nor 64-year-old, Italian-born Ranieri have claimed to be uncanny magicians for the roles they have played in Leicester City and Aces' rise to prominence, rather playing down their own contributions than trumpeting them for the world to hear.

But the apparent soccer long shots they have overseen via the elevation of erstwhile relegation candidates to storybook success stories can in some considerable degree be credited to the expertise the respective coaches have acquired as a result of their long and varied careers in the game.

Ertugral's tenure with Aces, which got underway at the start of the present season, is the 13th in his coaching career - the majority of which have been with South African clubs.

Ranieri, a cool customer if ever there was one, has been even more prolific with 16 appointments, numbering among them such famed clubs as Juventus, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid , Napoli and Valencia.

What they have learnt along the road of what has been claimed to be one of the world's most precarious and insecure professions - most recently demonstrated by the sudden departure  of "golden boy" Gordon Igesund from SuperSport United - is that winning the respect and support of the players, with the motivational spin-off that it precipitates, is invariably at the root of securing success.

While neither Leicester or Black Aces may emerge as League champions at season-end, what they have already achieved will be regarded as worthy of a much praise for championing the cause of the under-dogs and demonstrating that nothing is impossible in soccer.