CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City won’t be looking to re-invent the wheel when they face Bidvest Wits in a crunch MTN8 second leg semi-final clash in Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon. In fact, if anything, it will be a case of same old, same old for the Capetonians, who take a 1-0 advantage into the match. Same ethos, same approach, and same commitment.
The fundamental feature of City’s appeal, since the formation of the club in June last year, has been the superb unity and fantastic team spirit. Whatever happens, win or lose, up or down, they’re in it together. And, because this team harmony is so pivotal, they are able to pull off positive results, whatever the circumstances of a game.
In two previous outings against Wits this season, in the league and first leg cup tie, City emerged victorious - and, while they may not have enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, their trademark fight and bite got them through in the end. This time, in Sunday’s second leg, it should be no different.
“It will be another big battle,” said central defender Robyn Johannes. “We know it will be difficult, we know how good Wits are. We take an advantage into the game, which means Wits will have to come out and attack us and that will perhaps leave them open at the back. If we stick to the game plan, perform as we always do, then we can pull it off.”
When City coach Benni McCarthy decided to drop captain and star player Lebogang Manyama for the first leg against Wits two weeks ago, because he felt the player had been distracted by transfer speculation, he handed the captain’s armband to Johannes. Now that Manyama has sealed a move to Konyaspor in Turkey (subject to a medical), the experienced central defender is the favourite to skipper the team on a permanent basis.
“Against Wits, the players responded well,” said Johannes. “But it was just for that game - as far as we are concerned, Lebo (Manyama) is still the skipper until his transfer is official. If it happens that I am named the captain after that, then I will be happy to do the job. But this is the type of team where we respect whatever the decision is. If it’s someone else, we will all be 100 percent behind the man. We do everything as a group, and we support each other as a group.”
Last season, Johannes formed a successful central defensive partnership with Tshepo Gumede. This season, the duo started the campaign again - but, when McCarthy recently rotated the starting team, he brought in new man Taariq Fielies (signed from Milano United). Fielies produced a storming game, to such an extent McCarthy retained the defender from Salt River for the next fixture. For Johannes, whether he plays alongside Gumede or Fielies, it doesn’t really matter - all he knows is that, whoever is picked, the player will give of his best for the team.
“Both Taariq and Tshepo are fantastic players,” said Johannes. “I like playing with defenders who can tackle and pass as well - both of them have a good pass and are aerially strong. I admire both and I learn whenever I play alongside them.
“I’m sure whoever plays of Taariq and Tshepo, the other will support, that’s how this team operates. We are a team, not a bunch of individuals. Individual glory means nothing, everything is about the team, and the club as a whole.”