Ajax Cape Town coach Muhsin Ertugral is quietly confident he can score another major upset when the Urban Warriors face holders Kaizer Chiefs in the first leg of their MTN8 semifinal showdown at Newlands on Saturday night.
Although Ertugral was playing his cards close to his chest by not revealing his strategy, he is likely to play a counter-attacking game against his former club.
Ertugral is not on a mission to score points over his former club. Said the new Urban Warriors coach: ”I left Chiefs on good terms and I’m happy to now be in charge of Ajax and do my best to get into the final.”
But Ertugral is determined not to concede a goal at home. ”We proved a point when we scored twice at Ellis Park where we beat Pirates 2-1 and we believe we can do it at Orlando Stadium in the return leg next Sunday.
”If we can keep a clean sheet it will be a major boost.”
Although he was not keen to discuss tactics, the Ajax coach added: ”I noticed last season and again this season Chiefs do not like it when sides hit them on the counter-attack.
”Maybe that is the way to go, but I have not decided on a battle plan yet.
”But I do know Chiefs [after coaching them for the last two seasons] and they know me. One thing is for sure, it is going to be
an entertaining cup tie.”
Ertugral won the competition last season with Chiefs who collected the winner takes all prize of R8-million.
Smiled the Ajax coach: ”Winning the trophy twice in a row would be something special and winning it with Ajax would be a dream come true.”
Ertugral also said playing both Orlando Pirates and Chiefs twice at the start of the season is tough on any side.
After beating Pirates 2-1 in the MTN8 semifinals at Ellis Park last Wednesday they then lost 1-0 to Bucs in their opening Premiership fixture 1-0 at Newlands last weekend.
”Playing the two giants of South African soccer twice each at the start of the season is difficult. But we showed character against Pirates in both games and were unlucky to lose in the league to Pirates, but we are now focused on Chiefs.”
Vladimir Vermezovic, who took over from Ertugral, will be under pressure to get a result against Ajax and Ertugral. After an impressive pre-season, Vermezovic came back to earth with a disappointing 0-0 draw in their opening Premiership match against Santos at Orlando Stadium last weekend.
The new Chiefs coach will have to make sure his strikers, Kaizer Motaung jr, Jose Torrealba, Nkosinathi Nhleko and Knowledge Musona, chalk their shooting boots.
AmaZulu will be playing for the memory of defender Jan Sillo who tragically died in a car accident in KwaZulu-Natal, when they play neighbours Golden Arrows at the Chatsworth Stadium on the other semifinal first leg tie on Sunday (3pm).
Said Usuthu coach Neil Tovey: ”We aim to win this one for Jan. It was a tragedy and we will miss him badly.
”He was a regular in our side and his loss has affected everyone, but we have to get on with it. The sad thing is this is the second year in succession we have suffered such a tragedy.
”At this time last season striker Siyabonga Mkhwanazi died.”
Tovey said he has a huge respect for Arrows. ”We have played Arrows a number of times and know each other well. We will have to defend well, but they like attacking and that gives opposing teams a chance to score.
”We are not putting ourselves under pressure to win this trophy, we are simply taking it one game at a time.”
The good news for Usuthu is the return from injury of defender Felix Kasonga and striker Collins Tshabalala from injury. — Sapa