CAPE TOWN – After crashing out of the Telkom Knockout on Tuesday, Cape Town City shift focus to the league campaign, where their log position is a cause for concern. As it stands, going into Saturday’s Absa Premiership fixture against AmaZulu at the Cape Town Stadium, both teams are wobbling precariously on the log.
The Cape side is third-from-bottom, with eight points from seven games, while AmaZulu are stone-last with just three points.
With both teams desperate for league points, there is no room for error for City. It should be simple: improve or get sucked into the dreaded relegation scrap.
As such, Benni McCarthy is demanding an improved performance from his team for City v AmaZulu Part 2 after Tuesday's 2-0 loss. He was livid after his team’s timid showing. He offered a few fringe players some game time - and he was disappointed by the response he got.
The thing about the Citizens is that they flit between extremes: when they are good, they are very good; when they are bad, they are downright hopeless. Tuesday’s display was of the latter variety - they could hardly string a pass together, they were second to everything, and they never troubled the opposition goalkeeper.
The big concern for McCarthy is squad depth. His usual starting team, the first-choice selections, are able to do the business - but, when the next wave comes in, the team struggles.
And then there's his team’s inability to find the opposition net. They’ve failed to score in their last four games, and that includes the MTN8 final (it ended goalless after 120 minutes and City went on to win on penalties).
McCarthy will have two issues on the agenda at training this week: to light a fire under his squad because recent performances have just not been good enough; and to focus on composure and confidence during shooting and scoring drills.
City’s efforts in the opposition penalty are rushed, snatched and panic-stricken. There is a sense of desperation in their attempts at goal, hence the lack of composure. But, whatever the issues are, a solution has to be found.
A player has, of course, been earmarked to solve City’s scoring problems - recent signing Tokelo Rantie - but they just can’t get him on the field. On his arrival in the Mother City, the former Bafana and Bournemouth striker needed to get back into shape and fitness.
After six weeks of hard work, McCarthy was ready to give Rantie a run on Tuesday, but then there was another setback. Rantie picked up a rib injury during training and the City coach decided to err on the side of caution, rather than risk injuring him further.
But, with the benefit of a few days’ rest, to allow the rib to heal, Rantie should be ready to go against AmaZulu. One thing’s for sure, McCarthy can’t wait to, in his own words, “let the player loose” on the PSL.