Benni McCarthy will be hoping he can continue with the positive form with his players this season. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
There's a battle taking place at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town tonight (6pm kick-off). For the victors of the Western Cape Premier Soccer League derby, bragging rights.

Will it be Cape Town City who emerge from the Premiership clash with all the points and a first win of the season at the second attempt or new boys Stellenbosch FC?

The Citizens will be banking on past league experience that hasn’t delivered silverware. They came close last season in an eventual fourth-place finish. A slow start and meltdown at the business end of the competition proved costly.

This is another chance for coach Benni McCarthy in his third season at the helm to create history for the club formed in 2016. He tasted glory in the MTN 8 last season.

Judged on their season-opener, there is work to do, especially in defence. Up 2-0 at Baroka FC, City surrendered their advantage before half-time and had to make do with a share of the spoils. It should have been 3-2 had Kermit Erasmus, who had scored earlier, not fluffed his lines from close range.

“Kermit sticks those away every single day at training and it’s just one of those things,” said assistant coach Vasili Manousakis. The 29-year-old South African international will want to set the record straight facing Stellenbosch FC’s back four who stood firm under constant threat from Chippa United in their first match in the PSL. Wingers Gift Links and Surprise Ralani and playmakers Thabo Nodada, new signing Mpho Makola and Thato Mokeke (if passed fit to play) have big roles to play if selected. Chris Davids is another frontline player to watch out for, especially from dead-ball plays.

Stellies will be tagged as underdogs in the derby but coach Steve Barker said his players have “come on” from having a game under the belt and are “chomping at the bit” to have a crack at a potential league contender.

“We’re looking forward to mixing it with City,” said Stellies coach Barker. “It’s going to be a real Cape derby and we’re aiming to put on a better performance than the one at Chippa. Our goal is to deliver a better offensive effort and make sure we don’t give the ball away cheaply. Also to use numbers going forward to create scoring chances and take them well.”

Stellies will look to the magic of midfielders Junior Awono and Nkanyiso Zungu to unlock City’s defence.

Both are highly rated by Barker. “They are two really good players and one of the main reasons behind us winning promotion. I’m confident they will be able to make the step up and compete in the PSL. They are different types of players; Junior is more of a hard-working, defensive midfielder whereas Zungu is a lot more creative; great passing ability, great passing range, so they complement each other very well and both have good presence,” said Barker.

Weekend Argus