CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City make their debut in continental inter-club competition when they tackle Young Buffaloes in a Caf Confederation Cup preliminary round, first leg tie in Swaziland on Friday afternoon (4pm kickoff) - and the fledgling PSL club couldn’t be prouder of its achievement.
While, at the moment, the mood at the club is one of delight, as the days count down it will gradually change to one of steely determination. The Capetonians are committed to giving their all, and to doing their utmost to make the club and the city proud.
But, nevertheless, it’s a really tough week for City. Before the Caf fixture, they face a tricky Nedbank Cup last 32 encounter against Wits in Johannesburg on Wednesday night (7.30pm kickoff), after which they will begin an arduous four-hour long bus trip to Swaziland.
“We will take the usual 18 players for the squad to play Wits and then five more players will join the squad on Thursday,” said City boss John Comitis. “We want to take a bigger squad, so that we can assess the injury situation after the Wits clash as well allowing a few others the opportunity for game time in Swaziland.”
Comitis and head coach Benni McCarthy have already said that, for the match against Young Buffaloes, they will blood a few youngsters. Two emerging players who are on the fringes of the first team are Zukile Kewuti and Shane Roberts, and it is expected that the duo will be given some game time on Saturday. But this certainly doesn’t mean that City aren’t taking the fixture seriously; in fact, just the opposite.
“We want to have a full go at the CAF competition,” said Comitis. “We will use the opportunity to rotate, though we are a little disappointed that we have not been able to register new signings Allan Kateregga and Matthew Rusike. We will have to wait until the next round before we can add them to our Caf squad. In any case, we are only expecting to have Rusike’s international clearance later this week.”
Ugandan Kateregga and Zimbabwean Rusike are, however, expected to be available for the Nedbank Cup clash against Wits. Their availability comes at just the right time for McCarthy. City’s major problem has been scoring goals, and the recently-signed duo has been brought in specifically to add some spark up front.
The other good news for the Cape club ahead of the Wits fixture is that McCarthy returns from a two-match ban to call the shots from the bench again. Assistant Vasili Manousakis has been holding the fort well in his absence, but the charismatic presence of McCarthy will act as a galvanising force for the squad.
As for last week’s loss against Mamelodi Sundowns in the league, Comitis wasn’t yet ready to give up the ghost of challenging for the PSL title. City are now seven points behind the Pretoria club.
“If we do fall away, it won’t be the loss against Sundowns that was the issue, instead it would be the fact that we haven’t won away games that we dominated,” said Comitis. “If you just look at the games we had in the Free State recently, we dominated both, but only picked up one point.
“Other teams will take points off Sundowns, so all is not lost yet. Our next league game is away against Kaizer Chiefs - if we win there, I think it puts us right back in it; if we lose that game against Chiefs, then, yes, I would say that’s it for the title challenge.”
Nedbank Cup last 32 fixtures:
Wednesday: AmaZulu v Mthatha Bucks; Ubuntu Cape Town v Polokwane City (Athlone Stadium, 7.30pm); Bidvest Wits v Cape Town City (Bidvest Stadium, 7.30pm)
Friday: Cape Town All Stars v Mamelodi Sundowns (Athlone Stadium, 8pm);
Saturday: Swallows FC v Maritzburg United; Steenberg United v Orbit College (Parow Park, 3.30pm); Phiva Young Stars v Chippa United; Orlando Pirates v Ajax Cape Town (Orlando Stadium, 8.15pm); Super Eagles v Free State Stars
Sunday: Kaizer Chiefs v Golden Arrows; Mariveni United v EC Bees; Bloemfontein Celtic v SuperSport United; Happy Wanderers v Royal Eagles
Wednesday, February 14: Richards Bay v Bloemfontein Young Tigers; Platinum Stars v Baroka FC; Stellenbosch v Highlands Park (Athlone Stadium, 7.30pm)