CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City have an opportunity to reclaim top spot in the PSL standings when they take on Platinum Stars at the Moruleng Stadium in Rustenburg on Thursday night (6pm kickoff), but the task has been complicated by the loss of both central midfielders, the combative Roland Putsche and the industrious Mpho Matsi.
With Wits now at the summit of the log after a 3-0 win over Golden Arrows on Tuesday, City can ill-afford to lose on Thursday night. The race for the title is tight and, in order to put pressure on the other contenders, they have to make sure that they keep winning.
As it stands, the Clever Boys head the top three on 44 points, followed by City in second place on 42 and Kaizer Chiefs on 39.
But City’s strength in depth will certainly be tested. Austrian Putsche has been extremely influential in the Cape side’s outstanding debut season. He’s the work-horse who makes the creative, attacking footballers around him blossom. Unfortunately, he picked up a fourth booking in City’s last fixture (an impressive victory over Chippa United) and now sits out an automatic one-match ban.
Matsi limped off injured in the first half of that Chippa win and has not recovered, which means City coach Eric Tinkler will have to field a new central midfield duo.
“(Mpho) Matsi is a big loss for us,” said Tinkler. “He’s unfortunately out. He’s been outstanding for us this season, so we’ll have to look at other options now. We will obviously miss Roland (Putsche) as well through suspension, so it will be a new midfield combination facing Platinum Stars.
“But Robyn (Johannes) is back to full fitness, so he gives us a big boost at the back. He’s been training with the team and he looks quite sharp.”
As such, Tinkler is likely to move utility man Thato Mokeke, who has been playing in the centre of defence in the absence of Johannes, into centre midfield and deploy Given Mashikinya as the other midfield anchor.
“It’s a difficult game against Platinum,” said Tinkler. “Obviously, there are no easy games at this stage of the season. But a win against Platinum will allow us to win the PSL’s third quarter. That’s an added incentive for the players. They are motivated, but are also aware that it’s going to be a tough encounter.
“We will have to be prepared, disciplined and structured defensively while at the same time also looking to play our own game. We had a better performance in the win over Chippa United and we hope to see the same type of performance again.”
The “third quarter” Tinkler is referring to is the PSL’s Q-Innovation, which sees the league programme split into four fixture-blocks referred to as quarters. The winner of each quarter pockets a healthy R1.5-million.