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Roger the Dodger vs Maestro Muhsin

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Roger the Dodger vs Maestro Muhsin

by Brian Gaffney
01 Mar 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

The only thing certain about the forthcoming Premier Soccer League derby between Santos FC and Ajax-Cape Town is that the respective coaches Roger da Sa and Muhsin Ertugral won't get the boot if they fail to secure a win at Athlone Stadium on Saturday night.

Unlike their previous experiences in the cut-throat professional soccer scenario, their positions are safe until the end of the season in May.

Remember how Ertugral, while with Kaizer Chiefs and thereafter during his brief spell with Santos, left in a huff?

And how Da Sa felt the heat when his former club, Wits University, was relegated to the Mvela League two seasons ago?

Both have produced competitive teams through the gradual introduction of young talent.

But things have changed for the better for both coaches, whose main objectives are to secure Top Eight places now that Mamelodi Sundowns is on the verge of retaining the league title.

Both have produced competitive teams through the gradual introduction of young talent. The names of Santos' teenagers Erwin Isaacs and Wayne Arendse come to mind. And so do Ajax's youngsters Granwald Scott, Clifford Ngobeni and Bryce Moon.

Da Sa, apart from his leading marksman Isaacs, has the good fortune to be able to call on Dipsy Selolwena, Koena Mathopa and Thembile Kanono to fill attacking roles.

Ajax look likely to start with their rugged striker Nathan Paulse in an effort to unsettle an, at times, sluggish Santos defence.

Paulse and Franklin Cale scored against Fidentia Rangers in the Absa Cup competition at Stellenbosch on Sunday. Ertugral is also under less pressure than Da Sa to qualify for the lucrative Top Eight contest. Ajax is placed joint third with Supersport United and Kaizer Chiefs, while Santos is desperate to improve on 11th position.

... so much at stake for both clubs ...

The Paulse/Cale combination could again suit Ertugral' game plan.

They both thrive on the quick through balls and crosses that have become a hallmark of Ajax's play.

With so much at stake for both clubs, this derby is certain to contrast sharply with the dour kick-about that marked the clubs' one-all draw in the first round at Green Point.

On Wednesday night at Athlone Stadium, Da Sa's charges also face a daunting Absa Cup match against Free State Stars, who have emerged as runaway winners in the Mvela League.

The return of Mauritian Sebastian Bax from injury and Muso Otieno's penchant to score in cup matches, however, offers Da Sa some encouragement.

The cup match starts at 20:00

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