Ertugral praise for Zakri, Nel


The Urban Warriors eased their relegation concerns with a 2-0 victory over the struggling Pretoria outfit, with goals from Fagrie Lakay and Mario Booysen securing all three points for the home side.

After suffering a muscle tear in January’s 3-0 win over Orlando Pirates, on-loan Mamelodi Sundowns striker Zakri returned to the starting line-up for the first time in a month, causing a number of problems for the SuperSport backline with his pace, skill and hold-up play.

READ: Ertugral: I knew Ajax had it

Ertugral was pleased with the Ivorian’s showing and backs him to keep improving, which he hopes will help the Cape club gather more points on the road.

“We want that element – that he can hold onto the ball – to free other players,” he said. “So if he can find the right moments to release the ball and be available again, that will give us an unbelievable situation, and that can help us in away games. Obviously, he hasn’t been playing because he was injured, but you can see what kind of elements he brings to the game.”

Ertugral was also finally able to call upon Nel, handing the 21-year-old his Ajax debut after he had groin surgery last year, and hailed the midfielder as a “quality player”.

“Everyone was saying he might be a problem [because of his injury], but for me, he knows when to go in,” the Turk said. “Over the last 20 minutes we were talking about it, but he stood away from the problem areas – he was just covering, so that makes a quality player. He didn’t get into areas where he was at risk of injury or get tired, and he stayed well in the organisation pattern, so I was very pleased.”

Ajax will hope to climb further away from the relegation zone with an away win in their next Absa Premiership encounter, taking place at Dr Molemela Stadium against Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday afternoon.