Cape Town - Cape Town City are fully prepared for a physical battle when they face Wits at Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday (8pm kickoff).
Top of the PSL standings with 21 points, City are expecting a huge onslaught from the third-placed Clever Boys (20 points).
Toppled from the summit after a 2-0 defeat to SuperSport United on Tuesday, Wits want to make amends and get back to winning ways.
City know what to expect from the opposition. They’ve already played Wits twice this season - in a two-leg MTN8 semi-final - losing the first 3-0, with the second ending goalless.
Because of this knowledge and taking into consideration the improvement City have shown since then, head coach Eric Tinkler and his assistant Ian Taylor are intent on sending out players capable of matching Wits on a physical level.
Robyn Johannes, for one, is back from suspension and is likely to replace Tshepo Gumede in the centre of defence.
Gumede has been good this season, but City feel he is a ball-playing defender who’ll struggle with the robust, aggressive approach of the Clever Boys.
As such, Johannes will line up alongside powerful, combative Ghanian defender Joseph Adjei as City look to end their Johannesburg trip on a winning note.
Adjei has slotted in brilliantly since making his starting debut last week.
On Tuesday night, the Cape side drew 1-1 with Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium. They then stayed on in Roodepoort, where they have been training at the Randburg Football Club grounds in preparation for Friday’s PSL fixture.
“Wits will be physical, we know that, and that’s what we are preparing for,” said Taylor. “We are picking the bigger boys for this match, we want players who can compete in one-on-one situations and are up for the physical battle.
“We know Wits’ quality and we know how they play. They’ll feast off the second ball, and use striker Eleazar Rodgers to bring players like Elias Pelembe and Daine Klate into the game.
“But it’s important to note that we are a lot wiser than we were when they beat us 3-0 in that MTN8 game. We’ve improved a lot since then and we’ve got our combinations going and our confidence up. It will be a different game this time around.”
The other teams news is that forward Lehlohonolo Majoro is out injured.
City are expected to move the in-form Lebogang Manyama from his deeper position to spearhead the attack, with the midfield boosted in an effort to combat the Clever Boys’ strength in that particular area of the field.
In addition, the most critical aspect for Tinkler and Taylor is to ensure that their players aren’t side-tacked by the fact that they are playing in the Telkom Knockout final next week.
“We’ve been impressing on the squad all week to focus on the immediate game at hand and not on next week,” said Taylor. “This is the game (against Wits) that’s important, it’s so easy for players to start drifting to next week’s final, and we cannot have that.”
Friday: Wits v Cape Town City (Bidvest Stadium, 8pm)
Saturday: Mamelodi Sundowns v Free State Stars; Platinum Stars v Polokwane City; Chippa United v Kaizer Chiefs; Orlando Pirates v Highlands Park; Ajax Cape Town v Golden Arrows (Athlone Stadium, 8.15pm)
Sunday: Bloemfontein Celtic v SuperSport United; Baroka FC v Maritzburg Utd