Cape Town City boss John Comitis couldn’t be happier with where his club stands at the halfway mark of the 2017-2018 PSL campaign.
In fact, after establishing the team in June 2016, and with many hurdles and hiccups along the way, he’s fought through it all and there definitely appears to be a rather bright, shining light at the end of the tunnel.
The energetic Comitis is not an individual who likes to be idle, he’s always moving, always scheming, always thinking about how he can improve his club.
But he will certainly be looking forward to the short Christmas recess to spend some time with his family before he thrusts himself back into the business of fulfilling his vision for City - both on and off the field.
Administratively, two crucial issues have to be dealt with - one is expected to be wrapped up next week, while a decision on the other is due next month. It’s no secret City have been very unhappy with not having a home training base; since their inception, they’ve been relying on the good grace of a rugby club to allow them access to a pitch in Green Point and, when it was not available, they had to trek all over the city to find a training venue. Next week, though, they are expecting to get the go-ahead from the City of Cape Town with regard to Hartleyvale.
“We are expecting to have the lease for Hartleyvale secured by next week,” said Comitis. “We will have two training fields there, and we couldn’t be happier. It will elevate us as a club and we no longer have to be nomads in our city.”
Comitis has previously also spoken about building the club’s own stadium. This remains the vision - and the ultimate goal is to eventually redevelop of the old Hartlevale Stadium into such a facility. That, though, is long-term; right now, the training venue is far more important.
Next month, however, could be critical for City with regard to the arbitration hearing around their sponsorship by sports betting company SportPesa. The PSL has threatened the Cape club with expulsion from the PSL or to be docked three points for every game in which the sponsor’s logo was used. Comitis, though, is confident he has done nothing wrong and that the PSL is just on a witch hunt.
“I was quite happy to take the case to arbitration,” said Comitis. “In fact, the PSL took legal opinion on this matter and were told by their counsel that there is no case, but they still proceeded. You are dealing with two different rights - we are not interested in the betting rights, we just want the money from the sponsorship.”
And it’s also important to note that there is a precedent, in that a few years ago SuperSport United were sponsored by gaming company Phumelela.
On the field, though, Comitis couldn’t be more chuffed with his decision to give Benni McCarthy his first taste as a head coach.
“I’ve no doubt that I made the right choice with Benni,” said the City boss. “He will keep improving, and we will keep backing him. We had a bumpy ride earlier on in the season, but Benni persevered; he would have learnt a lot from that period. It was good experience for him, but it made him wiser and made him grow as a coach.
“In fact, I don’t even know how we managed to pull it off that we finished off the year in second position. Last year, at the same time, we were in fourth spot, now we are second. We hit a really rough patch, so to come back and be second, I’ve got to be happy with that.”
With influential assistant-coach Ian Taylor having taken up a position in Ajax Amsterdam’s youth development programme, where he is expected to work in China, Comitis said that Vasili Manousakis will fill the role for now. He hasn’t decided yet whether he will bring in anybody else. The club will, however, be quite active during the January transfer window.
“I think with Ian leaving, it was perhaps something good for Benni,” said Comitis. “Ian was always very involved and had a lot of input. It’s probably a case of that’s the way it was before Benni came in and he didn’t want to rock the boat; why change something that works? But since Ian left, we have seen more of Benni, he has been able to express himself more as a coach.