By Andile Dladla and Mandla Dladla
Plans to lure an astute coach deeply connected with South Africa back to his native Turkey were set in motion during a conversation when the current coach expressed his desire to have him returning home to act as Technical Advisor to the national team.
Former Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Ajax cape Town coach Muhsin Ertugral revealed that a friendly conversation with his long-time friend and current Turkey coach Senol Gunes who wanted him as part of the Technical set-up, set in motions plans that resulted in him returning to his native country.
“It is integral for me in the technical department to look at what is happening in international football,” said Ertugral who is the TD of Turkey. “Focusing on the details of what the rest of the world is doing at the moment is largely my responsibilities.
Ertugral admitted that it makes him proud to be part of the Turkish national team set-up especially because he is currently involved at a time when there is a glut of exciting young talent that has emerged with more than 20 of them turning out for top teams in Spain, England, Italy and Germany.
“Importantly, I am involved in working with these teams and getting performance analysis because every country play differently and with their own preferred system.
“It is the national team set up where you do not have enough time with players, maybe just two sessions and find the right group to play and compete with nations like Germany, Spain and Italy. You need to be at the same level and be very prepared in all areas of the game.”
South Africa is always special to Ertugral. The first time he arrived was during the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations with Zaire which is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“At the end of the tournament I went back to Trabzonspor which is one of the biggest teams of Turkey. I was the sporting director there but left and came to take charge of Kaizer Chiefs during 1999.
“There followed really very interesting years for me. If you asked me if I still have plans of going back into coaching in South Africa, it is a big yes for me,” said the former Ajax Cape Town technical director.
He strongly believes that South Africa had an impressive group of players during the 1990’s going all over the world and to Turkey but they are a few coming out of Mzansi these days.
“The current players are not growing into international footballers as they should be,” he laments. “I think that it is time that former players and legends like Shaun Bartlett, Bradley Carnell, Steve Komphela, Lucas Radebe guys who played overseas and represented their national team to get involved in structures of the South African Premier League as well as the Football Association.
“It is very important to focus on development structures worldwide because talent alone do not get you enough match experience. South Africa has a lot of potential but in the end players are not supported,” said the man who is known to assist in the development of women in sport.
He is the first coach that took a leap of faith with Elsa Storm, one of the best fitness trainers in the country, by appointing her as the fitness trainer of Kaizer Chiefs at a time when there was hardly a single woman holding a senior position in this male dominated sport.
Ertugral has been a FIFA official since 1999 and he also serves in the technical committee of TSG Hoffenheim. He has been requested to stay with the Turkish football federation until the end of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The mastermind who has worked in three continents says it is very important that where ever you are around the world, you learn different languages and cultural backgrounds. The Turkish born coach who grew up in Germany says it is also the respect you show to the players backgrounds.