Cape Town City's rise to prominence after their establishment as a PSL club in June 2016 has been founded on a simple premise: hard work, perseverance and an unshakeable commitment to the team ethic. Thabo Nodada is a footballer who encapsulates each of these traits – in spades.
The industrious City midfielder will, as such, play an influential role when the Cape side hosts Mamelodi Sundowns in a Nedbank Cup quarter-final tie at the Cape Town Stadium this afternoon (kick-off 3pm).
Nodada was part of the Mpumalanga Black Aces squad who trekked down to the Mother City after City boss John Comitis bought the franchise and relocated the club to the Cape.
He was injured for the early part of their debut season and, once he recovered, he struggled to get a look-in under former coach Eric Tinkler. But the arrival of Benni McCarthy changed all that - since the former Bafana striker took over as City coach, Nodada has always been one of the first names on the team sheet.
McCarthy loves the player’s work rate and his whole-hearted committed to the team. What’s more, Nodada’s late runs from midfield are a potent weapon in getting behind organised defences.
The 22-year-old is really looking forward to the clash against Sundowns, especially as this is an area where the game could well be won or lost.
The Pretoria team is particularly strong in this department and, if central midfielders Tiyani Mabunda and Hlompho Kekana are allowed to dominate, then invariably, victory ensues. But Nodada is up for the challenge.
“Some would say this is the final before the final,” said Nodada. “So it’s a special game, but we will approach it with hard work and determination. We played Wits and won, we played Pirates and won - it’s all about momentum. And now it’s Sundowns, another big one. I think we’re ready and will give it our best.”
The international break has been good for City to re-charge the batteries after a bruising campaign in the CAF Confederations Cup. They were eliminated by Mozambique’s Costa do Sol, and it’s an experience they won’t forget very soon, especially considering the brutal tackling and severe intimidation they had to endure.
“The break has been very positive,” said Nodada. “We needed the rest after the CAF games, the league and the Cup. We are back fresh now with everyone keen to play; it’s a nice feeling.”
Nodada stressed that City are intent on taking things one game at a time. The fact that the competition’s final will be played in the Mother City has no bearing on their approach, nor does it add any pressure to their preparations.
“I don’t think it plays in our heads,” said the City midfielder. “But we were in a final last season and we won, and we were in a final at the start of this season but came up short. So this is an opportunity for us to continue, and hopefully get a trophy this season.
“On a personal level, I think I’ve done very well this season. I’ve done myself proud, my family proud, and I just need to keep working hard and going for more.”