CAPE TOWN - Don’t expect anything different from Cape Town City this season.
In short, in this squad, individualism is not tolerated. Everything revolves around the team; everybody in the squad works towards the success of the unit.
This is the resounding message from City skipper Lebogang Manyama as the Cape club heads into today’s MTN8 quarterfinal against Polokwane City at the Cape Town Stadium (kick-off 3pm).
The words will probably seem a bit ironic, especially considering that Manyama was the big winner at last season’s PSL awards ceremony. The inspirational City captain walked off with the Player’s Player of the Season, the Top Goalscorer prize and the coveted PSL Footballer of the Season.
But, for Manyama, the accolades are just a tribute to the graft and industry of the City team.
It’s the diligence and effort of each and every City player that allowed him to blossom as individual - and then, in turn, created the platform for the Cape club to have the successful debut season they had.
But all that is in the past, acknowledges Manyama. As City prepare for Polokwane, he knows there’s a new, arduous season ahead. Things will be tougher, teams will be better prepared.
For the 26-year-old from Tembisa, however, it’s all about things the team can control. They can’t concern themselves too much about the opposition and all the extraneous things that pertain to football - all they can do is to recreate the team ethic and the spirit of unity and harmony that made the Capetonians such a hit last season.
“It’s the first game of the season,” said Manyama. “We just have to put it in like we did last season. We have to apply ourselves like we did last season. We know it will be tough, we know teams will be ready for us, but we will approach it as we always do - as a team.”
With last season’s head coach Eric Tinkler having jumped ship to join SuperSport United, the new man tasked with developing this City squad even further is 39-year-old former Bafana Bafana striker Benni McCarthy.
According to Manyama, there’s no need to worry too much; it’s so far, so good, with regard to McCarthy’s role as coach.
“The one thing I believe in,” said the City skipper, “is that everybody deserves a chance. You cannot judge somebody before he has had an opportunity to show what he is capable of.
“Benni may not have coached before, but I can tell you he has the backing of each and every player in the City squad.
“Over the last few weeks, he has shared a lot of his knowledge and experience with us. It’s still a work in progress and it’ll get even better with time.”
Manyama emphasised, though, that City were in no way taking today’s opposition, Polokwane, lightly. He is fully aware of how difficult and competitive an opponent the team from Limpopo can be.
“Polokwane are a very good team,” he said. “Last season, like us, they surprised quite a few of the teams. So we know what to expect and we know that we have to respect what they can bring.
“They love to play football and, in Jabu Maluleke, they have a player who can make things tick.
“I expect it will be an open, entertaining game, and that should be great for the supporters.”
It’s going to be very interesting to see how City go today, and for the rest of the season, not just because of the brilliant Manyama, but also because this is McCarthy’s first stint as a head coach.
To add to that, veteran Teko Modise - a former two-time PSL Footballer of the Season - is on board, while Ayanda Patosi has returned from Europe and is using City as a springboard to relaunch his career.
No doubt, to ease the nerves, and infuse the squad with confidence going forward, McCarthy will want nothing but a positive result today.