It will be make or break as regards Kaizer Chiefs’ hopes of winning the Absa Premiership when they host relegation haunted Bloemfontein Celtic at the Super Stadium on Saturday night. Kick-off is at 8.15pm.
Amakhosi coach Mushin Ertugral, admitted Celtic is a must-win match. ”We dropped two points in our 0-0 away draw against Ajax Cape Town and lost 3-2 to Moroka Swallows in our last two matches. The bottom line is we cannot afford any more slip-ups if we are to be in the hunt for the league title.
”If we drop points now it will make it very difficult to keep up with the pace setters. This is one of those games we have to win at all costs.”
Despite Phunya Sele-Sele’s lowly position, Ertugral was impressed by the way Celtic defeated Ajax, one of the favourites to win the championship, 2-1 at the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium last weekend.
Said the Chiefs coach: ”Celtic totally outplayed Ajax. I was amazed. Even the penalty they got to make it 2-1 at the end of the game was never a penalty. Celtic have improved and more than deserved to beat Ajax. That means we will be wary and on our toes. They are fighting for their lives and we do not want to repeat the mistakes we made against Swallows. We made two bad mistakes and were punished.”
Ertugral was annoyed at his players. ”We work so hard at training on defending free kicks and crosses. The first goal was from a free kick and the second a cross we failed to defend. We lost concentration on both occasions and that is simply not good enough. We have worked on correcting those mistakes and I have stressed to the players they need to concentrate for the entire 90 minutes.”
Ertugral will have no problem if Celtic field their on-loan striker from Chiefs, Gert Schalkwyk, who has been an instant hit with the Free State outfit, scoring three goals in as many games.
Said the Chiefs coach: ”As far as I am concerned Schalkwyk can play against us. I have no problem with that. He asked to leave as he wanted a change. At Chiefs he did not fit our style — Celtic’s style suits him well. We are still good friends and he left with my blessing.”
Ertugral is still without his two injured strikers, Venezuelan international Jose Torrealba and Nigerian Zito Ogbonna.
But while those two have been out of action for a while, both Abia Nale and Kaizer Motaung junior have made the most of their opportunities.
Nale has looked a class act since joining Amakhosi last month, while Motaung has been banging in the goals when he returned to duty after a long-term injury. He has scored four goals in five games and neither Torrealba nor Ogbonna have been badly missed.
Another new recruit, Josta Dladla who made his debut against the Birds and was replaced in the second half, is competing with veteran Arthur Zwane for the rightwing position.
Said Ertugral: ”Competition for places is healthy.” Apart from Schalkwyk, Celtic have Moses Spandeel, Petrus Mahlatsi, former Chiefs striker Shaun Bartlett and attacking midfielder Mark Mayambela to test the suspect Chiefs defence.
Ajax host another side on the fringe of the relegation zone, AmaZulu, at the Athlone Stadium on Saturday at 6pm.
The Urban Warriors, like Chiefs, cannot afford another setback if they are to keep in the title hunt, while Usuthu need points to claw away from danger.
In other Saturday action improving Free State Stars meet Santos at Bethlehem’s Goble Park and at the Mmabatho Stadium Platinum Stars are at home to bottom club Bay United. Kick-off for both those matches is at 3.30pm. — Sapa