CAPE TOWN – A resurgent Ayanda Patosi continued to demonstrate that, in football, character and fortitude are just as important as talent.
The 25-year-old from Khayelitsha scored the all-important winner as Cape Town City defeated Orlando Pirates 1-0 in a Nedbank Cup last-16 tie at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday night.
With the Capetonians through to the quarter-finals, it was again Patosi who proved how well he has overcome recent adversity.
After spending six years playing in Belgium, he returned home to sign for City this season.
Things never went according to plan as he had weight and fitness issues, but after being put on a special diet and training programme, he’s come back strongly.
Two weeks ago he netted against Chippa United, and on Wednesday, he produced another sprightly performance in City’s victory over the Buccaneers.
In an entertaining, free-flowing encounter, it was a huge surprise that it took so long for a goal to come.
But when it came, in the 55th minute, it was certainly worth the wait.
Surprise Ralani’s skill out wide created the opening to cross, and when the ball entered the penalty area, it was Patosi who reacted quickest to stab in the goal.
Right from the start, it was end-to-end stuff and there was goal-mouth action aplenty.
City played some delightful football, with their build-ups slick and their passing smooth and confident.
In contrast, Pirates found themselves in the unfamiliar role of having to look for scraps on the counter.
Justin Shonga hit the upright in the opening few minutes as Pirates’ game plan of pressing the City defence worked rather well.
City are known for using central defenders Robyn Johannes and Taariq Fielies to initiate play from the back, but the Buccaneers’ forwards swarmed rapidly to force them into errors.
Gradually, though, the Cape side got into gear and regularly managed to pass their way beyond the initial press – and once they had done so, they were able to dismantle Pirates’ shape and structure.
But as has been the case all season, City couldn’t make their dominance of possession count.
Edmilson fired a shot over the bar, Ayanda Patosi had an attempt saved by Pirates keeper Siyabonga Mpontshane, Thami Mkhize’s far-post header was cleared by defender Happy Jele and Fielies missed his team’s best chance of the first half when he hoofed the ball high from right in front of the keeper.
For City, the midfield axis of Austrian Roland Putsche, Teko Modise and Patosi grabbed control of the game, and it was their superiority that caused Pirates to struggle.
Because the Cape trio were able to shift the ball around quickly, they dragged the opposition’s midfielders out of their comfort zones, forcing them to focus more on their defensive duties.
And as such, they were able to push Pirates deep into their own half; the only thing that City failed to do in the opening 45 minutes was to make the most of it.
Once City had taken the lead, and Patosi had run his race to be withdrawn in the 70th minute, the game plan changed.
The Cape side then sat back, allowed Pirates to have the ball and waited for the counter.
This allowed the Soweto side to rally and push forward more, with Marshall Munetsi’s header cleared off the line by Modise and City keeper Sage Stephens pulling off a great save to deny Shonga.
In the end, City hung on desperately to register the win.
Patosi’s goal will again hog the headlines, but every City player gave his all in a magnificent all-round team performance.