Ajax dump Pirates out of Cup
Orlando Pirates coach Ruud Krol, stressed it will be a whole new ball game when they face Ajax Cape Town for a second time in five days at Newlands on Sunday in their opening Absa Premiership fixture.
The Urban Warriors edged out Bucs 2-1 in an action packed MTN8 quarterfinal clash played at Ellis Park on Wednesday night.
But both coaches, Krol and Ajax’s Muhsin Ertugral, said afterwards it was not healthy having to face the same opponents so soon in different competitions.
“The league game will be a lot different. The Cup is a one-off game and we failed to score and paid the price.
“We had enough chances to win but missed some easy chances, while Ajax had one real chance in the second half and they took it.
“We did not play well in the first half, but took charge in the second period.
But it is not ideal to play the same side so soon in the first league match.
“I will be analysing this match and work out a game plan for Sunday.”
The former Dutch skipper also stressed he did not believe in hoodoos or jinx teams.
Pirates have failed to beat Ajax in their last four meetings, having only one league draw to show from those four games.
Said Krol: “No ways. There is no such thing. We were at fault for this loss and need to go to Cape Town on Sunday and make amends.”
Ertugral has already stamped his mark on his new club and was delighted with his side’s fighting spirit.
He also confirmed he had signed three top foreign players in Latvian international defender Denis Vernakov, Guinea’s Fofone Aboubekar who played in Belgium, and Ivory Coasts’ Dialo Mohamed, who played in the Swiss First Division. They are expected in Cape Town on Thursday.
“All three are top class players and will make a world of difference and strengthen the squad, but they will not be ready to play against Pirates.”
Ertugral has found a gem in South African under-20 striker Thulani Serero, who was named Man of the Match after scoring the opening goal and playing a big role in the win.
“It is not going to be easy playing Pirates a second time within such a short space of time, but at least we have home ground advantage and I will have midfielder Granwald Scott back from injury.
“But I will be looking for the same character and fighting spirit that we showed tonight [Wednesday]. I was really proud of my players and it made me really happy to be back coaching Ajax.”
The turning point of the game came in the 70th minute with the score level at 1-1. Bucs striker Katlego Mashego rounded Ajax keeper Hans Vonk and with an empty net staring at him, the Bafana Bafana striker hit the post.
Seven minutes later Dipsy Selolwane slammed home the winner.
Said Ertugral: “Mashego should have scored. It was a simple chance but he missed and we went on to score and win. I am thrilled to get into the semifinals.”
Krol agreed: “It was a bad miss, but that was not the only chance that we wasted. That is something I have to sort out and soon.”
Mashego had earlier cancelled out Serero’s goal with a stunning free kick in the 53rd minute.
But with Pirates pride wounded, Ajax can expect the Buccaneers to come to Cape Town guns blazing on Sunday. Meanwhile Ajax have suspended their Brazilian born defender Eduardo Ferreira after he failed to attend training after Ajax and Mamelodi Sundowns had concluded a deal to transfer the Brazilian to Downs in January. Ajax this week suspended another defender, Nhlanhla Kubeka, for disciplinary reasons. Kubeka faces a club disciplinary hearing shortly after making media statements criticising Ertugral.
In the other MTN8 quarterfinal played on Wednesday night, Golden Arrows edged out Free State Stars 1-0 at the Charles Mopeli stadium.—Sapa