Mpho Makola of Cape Town City during the Absa Premiership 2019/20 football match between Cape Town City and Stellenbosch FC at Athlone Stadium. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN - Benni Mccarthy remembers the day Mpho Makola arrived at Orlando Pirates in 2012.

McCarthy was in his mid-thirties and in the twilight of a brilliant playing career and Makola was in his early twenties when he arrived from Free State Stars. One was a striker, the other a midfielder.

“We as strikers knew that all we had to do was make a move and Mpho would lay the ball on a platter for us,” recalls McCarthy. “Fast-forward to the present and we cross paths again, him now as a player for Cape Town City and me as the club coach. I wanted to sign him last season, it never happened. 

But now I have my man. And he’s proven to be a great signing cost us nothing. When I heard Pirates didn’t want him anymore, I pounced at the opportunity to sign him up with him being a free agent. The Buccaneers’ loss is our gain.”

Makola, 33, has hit the ground running in the two full games he’s played for City in the Premiership. But McCarthy doesn’t want to rush him along as he never had a pre-season.

“We have to manage him well. There’s still a near full season to run and he is going to be a big player for us, so it’s important to bring him along slowly. You see how calm he is, he doesn’t panic, he doesn’t rush and he makes us play. And that is with us missing Abbubaker Mobara, Thato Mokeke, Thabo Nodada and Roland Putsche. Imagine all these guys come back and you mix it with Mpho’s quality”

Mokeke and new signing Mobara (ex-Pirates and Ajax Cape Town) will be available for tomorrow’s MTN 8 quarter-final clash against Polokwane City at Newlands (3pm kick-off). 

The Citizens are the defending champions and retaining the title will net the club R8 million and see them join three-time champions Pirates as the only multiple winners of the knockout competition. 

Mike de Bruyn