Ertugral tight-lipped over February absence

Captain Brandon Petersen, who made 17 starts last season, has been the club’s first-choice so far in their National First Division campaign, keeping four clean sheets in the eight games in which he’s featured so far, yet was unable to play in the Urban Warriors’ last two fixtures due to injury.

Youth product February, who started 13 games last season – and seven following Ertugral’s arrival in January – had not made the match-day squad for any of Ajax’s first eight games of the season, and in Petersen’s absence, sat on the bench as off-season signing Shu-Aib Walters donned the number one jersey in the club’s 1-0 loss to Uthongathi two weeks ago, with the former Cape Town City stopper once again guarding the posts in Ajax’s 2-2 draw with Real Kings last time out.

February, who has represented South Africa at U-20 and U-23 level, has been with the Urban Warriors' senior side since 2014 after being promoted from the club's youth structures, yet when quizzed about the 22-year-old’s absence so far this season, Ertugral refused to give away much.

“Brandon has been all the time in goal and did a great job, but then got injured,” the Turkish coach said. “So we then brought in Shu-Aib, to get his elements in, as we need an experienced goalkeeper here. We don’t have experience at all, so at least he gave us a little bit of experience, and last week he was very good.

"Brandon is now ready to go again, but chopping and changing doesn’t make sense – goalkeepers are individuals, so you need to give them confidence, but after the goal Shu-Aib conceded, he lost his confidence and conceded another unnecessary second one [in the 2-2 draw with Kings].”

When asked whether February was not at the required level to be given a chance, Ertugral disagreed, but said he’s happy with his first-choice duo at present.

“Jody is good, but we have Brandon and Shu-Aib,” he said. “Shu-Aib is an international, and Brandon is a good goalkeeper, and chopping and changing doesn’t make sense.”

Ajax sit seventh in the NFD standings with 15 points from their 10 matches played, and next face 15th-placed Witbank Spurs on Saturday afternoon.

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