Lebogang Manyama transferred his scintillating club form for Cape Town City to the international stage in a promising, influential 30-minute cameo in Bafana Bafana’s 3-1 friendly win over Guinea-Bissau at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday.
On Tuesday night, the SA national football side are in friendly action once again when it hosts Angola in East London – and, no doubt, stand-in coach Owen da Gama will throw the in-form Manyama in right from the start.
The City skipper and Bafana teammate Percy Tau are probably the two leading candidates for the PSL’s player award at the end of the season.
Mamelodi Sundowns’ Tau, like Manyama, came on in the second half against Guinea-Bissau, and proceeded to ink his name in lights with a superbly-taken goal.
On Manyama’s return from national duty, though, he’ll have to quickly shift focus to the Cape team’s challenge for the PSL title.
City were scheduled to play Chippa United in a PSL fixture on Saturday – but, because of the unavailability of both Cape Town Stadium and Athlone Stadium on that day, the match has been moved to Monday night (kickoff 7.30pm).
The former World Cup venue in Green Point is hosting another event, while Athlone features a First Division game between Stellenbosch and AmaZulu on Saturday.
With a third of the season to go, it’s a five-horse race for the PSL championship. At this stage, there is no room for error. It’s pick up points at all costs.
Lose, and a team will find themselves drifting away. City currently top the standings with 39 points, followed by Wits on 38, SuperSport 37, Kaizer Chiefs 36 and Sundowns on 34 points.
Manyama, of course, is crucial to City’s chances of annexing the title in their debut season – and, while they will certainly be rooting for their captain to have a good game on Tuesday, they will also be holding thumbs that he comes through the Angola test unscathed and injury-free.
Losing their inspirational talisman at this stage of the campaign would indeed be cataclysmic for the Capetonians.
Meanwhile, over in the other half of the Mother City, Ajax Cape Town are confident of a change in fortune when they face a tricky away fixture against Maritzburg United (kickoff 8.15pm).
But it certainly won’t be easy. Maritzburg last week parted ways with coach Roger de Sa (a former Ajax mentor) and in his place in a caretaker capacity is Capetonian Fadlu Davids.
Former striker Davids is a wily coach and it’s a bit of a mystery why Maritzburg keep opting for high-profile names when they have an able candidate at the club.
This is Davids’ fourth spell as caretaker and he hasn’t done too badly at all. In fact, he’s lost just one game.
For Ajax, though, it’s that elusive win in 2017 that keeps adding to the pressure on the squad. Head coach Stanley Menzo gets visibly irritated when asked about the issue, preferring to stress that he’s happy with his team’s overall performances and that the win will come.
But as they are yet to win this year, it’s a statistic that will always be at the forefront of any discussion around Ajax.
And if Menzo wants the media to stop making it a big question on the agenda, then a win over Maritzburg is the perfect way to shut them up.
Weekend PSL fixtures
Saturday: SuperSport United v Baroka FC; Golden Arrows v Highlands Park; Free State Stars v Orlando Pirates; Wits v Platinum Stars; Kaizer Chiefs v Mamelodi Sundowns; Maritzburg Utd v Ajax Cape Town (Harry Gwala Stadium, 8.15pm).
Sunday: Polokwane City v Bloemfontein Celtic.
Monday, April 3: Cape Town City v Chippa United (Athlone Stadium, 7.30pm).