CAPE TOWN ALL STARS were dealt a massive blow ahead of their Nedbank Cup clash tonight against Premiership outfit Black Leopards.
The second division (third tier) side will be without captain Marawaan Bantam for the clash after the attacking midfielder decided to leave the club last week because of “internal politics”.
“I left the club last week for personal reasons. It was not my intention to go before such a big match, but I couldn’t handle the politics anymore,” Bantam told the Cape Times yesterday.
Bantam revealed yesterday that he is in discussions with two Castle League teams after a few National First Division clubs, including Santos, said he was too old to take a chance on.
“I believe the guys can still beat Leopards. They are a good young team with massive potential,” he added.
All Stars are looking to join National First Division side Vasco da Gama as the only Cape representatives in the round of 16. But it’s going to be tough without the experience of Bantam. Premiership sides Ajax Cape Town and Chippa United and NFD outfit Milano United were already knocked out of the tournament over the weekend.
The former Santos and Wits playmaker Bantam might be 35 years old, but he is still a wonderfully gifted player. His eye for a pass and reading of the game makes him a dangerous customer in the final third, while he has been known to be a deadly operator with free kicks.
The beleaguered Leopards defence will be happy that Bantam will not be taking the field against them in Polokwane tonight (7.30pm kickoff).
Leopards have struggled to get going after the break and suddenly find themselves in a relegation scrap with Ajax Cape Town, Chippa United and AmaZulu following a string of poor performances at the back.
All Stars are one of the up-and-coming teams in the Mother City, and already made their Nedbank Cup debut last year in a dream match against Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium, two years after the club was formed.
Former Ajax junior coaches Ian Taylor and Dylan Deane are in charge of the team, who are again sitting pretty in the second division standings after coming up short last season to Milano United, who since went on to win the national playoffs and are competing in the NFD.
According to the PSL website, All Stars are again challenging for promotion this season, and were leading the second division at the start of the year.
In tonight’s other matches, PSL strugglers AmaZulu take on Tembu Royals in a battle of the oldest teams in the competition, while African Warriors play Jacksa Spears at the Charles Mopeli Stadium.
NEDBANK CUP LAST-32 FIXTURES
Today: Black Leopards v Cape Town All Stars (Old Peter Mokaba Stadium, 7.30pm), AmaZulu v Tembu Royals (King Zwelithini Stadium, 7.30pm), African Warriors v Jacksa Spears (Charles Mopeli Stadium, 7.30pm).