CAPE TOWN – Cape Town City are back in the race for a top-eight finish in the Premiership after their 2-0 victory over Bloemfontein Celtic at Athlone Stadium on Sunday moved them up to 10th on the table on 27 points, four shy of eighth-placed Highlands Park with a game in hand.
The Capetonians were simply too good for Celtic and Thabo Nodada and Bradley Ralani cashed in with first-half goals.
Midfielder Nodada was set up by leftwing Ralani for the opening goal and his fifth of the season before neat inter-play inside the penalty area paved the way for Ralani’s third goal of the campaign.
City coach Jan Olde Riekerink was happy with the performance.
“We were playing well without getting the desired results before the meeting with Celtic, that due to us not creating enough chances.
“So the pressure was mounting, we needed to get a positive result to keep away from the relegation zone, and the boys delivered the goods, but we still are only four points ahead of the second-bottom team (Polokwane City), so we need to push on.
“But I’m happy for my players, they played well as a team and got rewarded. We had to take risks, but I know the quality of the team, so that wasn’t a problem for me,” he said.
Thabo Nodada of Cape Town City during the Absa Premiership 2019/20 game between Cape Town City and Bloemfontein Celtic at Athlone Stadium on 8 March 2020. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Nodada and midfield partner Mduduzi Mdantsane excelled, striker Fagrie Lakay worked his socks off, while Craig Martin at rightback in place of injured captain Thami Mkhize caught the eye with his speed and forays deep into enemy territory.
The last line of defence spearheaded by centrebacks Taariq Fielies and South Africa U23 player Keanu Cupido dealt with incoming threats well, leaving goalkeeper Peter Leeuwenburgh with not much to do but for the odd save.
Now for the next challenge, a trip to relegation-threatened Chippa United on March 20.
First-choice striker Kermit Erasmus, who sits on nine goals, should be over his hamstring injury and part of the travelling squad to the Eastern Cape, but maybe not Mkhize, the Bafana Bafana defender has battled with a right ankle for months now and best he be given time to fully recover.
Former Orlando Pirates midfielder Mpho Makola, who is over a sprained ankle, is an option at the back for Olde Riekerink after getting some game time off the bench against Celtic.