While the majority of voters are going for Orlando Pirates, Ertugral has joined former Bafana Bafana mentor Clive Barker in tipping Supersport United (who are currently second in votes cast) to pip log leaders Ajax Cape Town (3rd in votes cast) for the Premier League title.
Recently, AmaZulu coach Barker came out in support of United coach Gavin Hunt. Barker praised the Supersport coach’s style.
United trail Ajax by one point with eight matches still to play. With Chiefs set to play Ajax in a Nedbank Cup match in Durban tomorrow (Friday), Ertugral made no secret to the Daily Dispatch of where his heart lay as far as the championship race was concerned.
“I have some wonderful memories of my coaching days with Ajax and while my heart is with them in the race for the title, logic is telling me that United will take the Premiership honours,” said Ertugral, clearly relieved after Chiefs’ 4-1 win over high-riding Free State Stars in Qwa-Qwa last weekend.
“Gavin Hunt has done a wonderful job since taking over as coach at United, and one can sense a degree of team spirit in their side. They look like an attacking unit and have some fine youngsters to complement their more experienced players.
“They are on a roll and Ajax will battle to hang on to their lead in the league race.”
Ertugral told the East London newspaper that his biggest headache on the Chiefs front is that the Amakhosi will face Ajax without Zimbabwean international midfielder Tinashe Nengomasha, who collected a yellow card against Stars, and will have to serve a suspension.
“Losing Tinashe’s skills in the middle of the field is a bitter blow to the team, but Ajax can go on and take the league and Chiefs will win the Nedbank Cup,” joked Ertugral.
“At Chiefs this season, I haven’t been under pressure. When a bomb drops in Iraq, that is pressure. I have just been disappointed. I cannot fault the players for not following instructions. We have played good football but the goals were not coming. Then in Qwa-Qwa, things changed for the better for us.
“One win doesn’t change everything and we will need to keep working hard.”
With Ajax soon to embark on action in the CAF Confederation Cup, Ertugral warned of the effect that the continental competition has on a club and its players.
“In my first spell at Chiefs, I coached the side to the African Cup Winners Cup title, as well as success in the Coca-Cola Cup, BP Top Eight competition and Vodacom Challenge, but I couldn’t get the players to raise their level of play in the league and Chiefs finished in ninth position,” said Ertugral.
That season, Chiefs were crowned as African Club of the Year.
“African cup competitions often affect the mindset of a player,” he added.
“It is an emotional football experience for young players, in particular. Suddenly one is not playing against the best players in SA, but against some fine players from other countries,” said Ertugral.