CAPE TOWN – Success is what all football clubs desire. It is, after all, why the sport is played. And, with the obscene amounts of money involved in the modern game, it stands to reason that silverware and honours are what every player and coach lusts after.
But, while that may be so, and the fact that Cup success is good, there is no doubt that league consistency is far more important.
Cape Town City find themselves in such a scenario as they head into their third game in the space of six days, a tricky PSL fixture away to Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium tonight (8pm kickoff).
After the euphoria of winning the MTN8 in Durban last weekend, City were cruelly brought down to earth in losing a league match 2-0 to Wits at Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday. Now, another tough league challenge is in the offing.
As it stands, City’s league situation is rather precarious. They are in 14th position on the 16-team PSL log, with six points from seven games, and, needless to say, they desperately need to turn things around. Last weekend’s Cup achievement should, by now, already be a thing of the past; time to focus on the league consistency.
For Tuesday’s clash against Wits, City coach Benni McCarthy rang the changes to the starting team. Just three players who started the Cup final against SuperSport United -goalkeeper Peter Leeuwenburgh, central defender Kwanda Mngonyama and winger Craig Martin - got the nod against the Clever Boys, with McCarthy bringing in eight new faces.
Afterwards, because of the disappointing performance, McCarthy admitted he had to accept a share of the blame. In hindsight, he said, there were too many changes and it affected the rhythm and flow of the team.
But, in saying that, he also confirmed that the mediocrity of the team’s display against Wits was an eye-opener for him with regards to selection: none of the players who came in put up their hands to say they were ready to step up for a more regular place in the side. As such, for tonight’s Maritzburg match, he has a clear idea of his approach and who he wants to pick to implement his plan.
“All I know is that selection becomes a little easier for me now,” said McCarthy. “Importantly, we need to focus on our consistency levels - because we cannot go from the high of the performance in the Cup final to the low of Tuesday. After that performance (against Wits), I know who my starting team is. That is the harsh reality of the situation - and a number of those who played (on Tuesday) will be looking over their shoulders. As for Friday, I will now be looking straight at the team who played in the final.”
With that in mind, McCarthy’s team is likely to look as follows:
The brilliant Leewenburgh will continue in goal, while Taariq Fielies will be joined by either Mngonyama or Kouassi Kouadja in central defence, with captain Thami Mkhize at right-back and Mozambican Edmilson Dove at left-back. Austrian Roland Putsche, Ayanda Patosi and new Bafana Bafana man Thabo Nodada will trod the central midfield area, with Gift Links, Craig Martin and Riyaad Norodien challenging for the two wing berths. Up front, Siphelele Mthembu will lead the line, unless McCarthy decides it’s time to hand Tokelo Rantie a debut appearance.