CAPE TOWN – Confidence is a mandatory prerequisite for any football team with designs on winning a trophy.
It’s no different for Cape Town City as they prepare for Saturday’s MTN8 final against SuperSport United at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban (7pm kickoff, live on SS4).
And for City, the return of new Bafana Bafana recruit Thamsanqa Mkhize provides a massive dose of confidence.
Mkhize impressed on his Bafana debut in a 3-1 over Burkina Faso in Johannesburg at the weekend. Late in the game, though, the industrious defender was injured.
With Bafana having already made three substitutions at the time, Mkhize, despite limping badly, then hobbled through the closing stages of the match.
In essence, this attitude is just in his nature – he doesn’t know when to quit and he’ll run through a brick wall in support of the team.
It’s this type of commitment that City coach Benni McCarthy is demanding from his team for the final, which is why he is ecstatic that Mkhize has been declared fit and ready to take his place in the team tomorrow.
“Thami (Mkhize) is fine, he’s 100 percent,” said McCarthy. “Thami is a trooper, a real gladiator.
“I thought he was tremendous for Bafana and he has sent out strong signals to the rest of the country that they will have to come take his position in the national team.
“Last season he was good; this season, he’s taken it up a few notches.
“He’s a great player to coach; he’s self-motivated, works very hard and certainly deserved the Bafana call-up.
“As far as I am concerned, Thami’s an example to other players in South Africa about how hungry and disciplined a player has to be to achieve his goals.”
Mkhize, in turn, is still delighted at having been part of the Bafana squad.
True to character, though, there is no sudden swagger about his persona because of the elevated status his presence in the national team affords him.
In fact, the one word that sums up his response is “grateful”.
“Being in the Bafana team was (a) great experience,” said Mkhize. “I’m grateful to have been given an opportunity to play in the national team.
“It was fantastic to be among the best players in South Africa, those who play abroad and those who are with big clubs in the country.
“Most of all, though, I am also grateful for my City teammates, without them it would not have been possible.
“The Bafana game was also a good confidence booster heading into the Cup final. Now I can come back to my club, continue to work hard, and hopefully contribute to a winning team performance on Saturday.
“I am grateful to be at a club like City that are challenging for everything. I’ve always wanted to play for a team that makes it to Cup finals and challenges for the title.”
Mkhize admitted that it wouldn’t be easy against SuperSport, especially with former City coach Eric Tinkler running the show for the opposition.
But, while many believe Tinkler’s presence provides SuperSport with an insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the City team, Mkhize says it’s just as important to realise that the opposite is as true: City’s players also know what to expect from Tinkler.
“I think with coach Tinkler at SuperSport it gives us a bit of an advantage, in that we know how he likes to set things up,” said City’s Bafana right back. “But it still won’t be easy because SuperSport are not just a good team, they’re a good club.
“They have a lot of good, experienced players, and I think their key man could be ‘Yeye’ (central midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane).
“But we also have players who can give us something on the day, like Thabo Nodada, Robyn Johannes and Ayanda Patosi, so we will be ready for them.
“Most importantly, looking at Saturday, we have to make sure that we are on top of our game.
“We have to play as a collective, win our challenges, and make sure that everybody works together for us to get the win.”