CAPE TOWN - It may not have been a vintage Cape Town City performance, but coach Eric Tinkler was nevertheless proud of his team’s fighting spirit and perseverance in seeing out a rather onerous 1-0 win over Free State Stars at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday night.
The result ensured that City stay in touch with log leaders and title favourites Wits. As it stands, Wits top the PSL standings with 54 points, followed by City on 52 and Mamelodi Sundowns on 51 - and, with both the Clever Boys and Masandawana in action on Sunday, the Capetonians have their fingers crossed.
Wits are home to Maritzburg United, while Sundowns are in Soweto to take on Orlando Pirates.
On Friday night, as expected, against a relegation-threatened Stars side, City never had things their own way. It was an uphill battle throughout the 90 minutes, but, in the end, all that mattered was that the three points were in the bag.
“It was tough, and we had to hold out in the end because Stars were putting aerial balls into our penalty area all the time,” said Tinkler. “It was a really difficult game; they are fighting for their lives and it showed in their performance.
“After the defeat to Maritzburg the previous game, and it was a very poor performance, we needed a response. After that loss, you could feel the disappointment in the squad at training in the week.
“But in the dressing-room on Friday, you could feel the vibe again.
“I thought we started quite lively against Stars. But then we dropped off and we allowed them to play to their strengths on the counter, and they caused us a lot of problems. In the second half, our shape was much better and we made the changes at the right time, and we got the goal (scored by Judas Moseamedi). Look, we were nowhere near our best, but again we showed character, and the unity and fighting spirit was there.”
Tinkler insisted that he was focused on his team finishing the season in third place. He wasn’t thinking about the title because, with three games to go, it was out of their hands.
“We were sitting in third earlier in the week and that is our target.
“That has to be the target because it is within our reach. To finish any higher, we would have to depend on both Wits and Sundowns dropping points. But for us to finish third, as I always say, would be a phenomenal achievement.
“There are, of course, no easy fixtures, but I think Wits have the momentum. They are the in-form team. Sundowns haven’t been that great with regard to form in recent games, but their quality and experience will always allow them to grind out results.”
Next up for City is a trip to Atteridgeville to take on SuperSport United on Tuesday.
Sunday's fixtures: Pirates v Sundowns; Platinum Stars v Highlands Park; Wits v Maritzburg Utd