Depth is such an important prerequisite to any ambitious football team.
And it has always one of the main motivations behind Cape Town City boss John Comitis’ transfer policy: Two top players to each position, so that when one’s not available the other can step in quite comfortably and do just as good a job.
City were faced with a big test in this regard when two weeks ago they lost both regular central defenders – captain Robyn Johannes and Tariq Fielies – to suspension.
But it proved to be no sweat as Kwanda Mngonyama and Tshepo Gumede came in, slotted into central defence with aplomb, and the Capetonians won both their games: 1-0 against Bidvest Wits in the Nedbank Cup and 1-0 over Young Buffaloes in CAF Confederation Cup.
Now City have another difficult challenge when they take on Kaizer Chiefs in a PSL fixture at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg tonight (Saturday) (kick-off 8.15pm).
But, at least, head coach Benni McCarthy doesn’t have to worry too much about central defence.
Johannes is still suspended, but Fieles is available again – though it doesn’t really matter who McCarthy picks, he knows he will get solid, reliable performances.
For Gumede, it has been an especially tough time. Last season, under Eric Tinkler, he was a regular starter.
This season, since McCarthy’s arrival, he has dropped down the pecking order, with the former Bafana Bafana striker a big fan of the Johannes/Fielies partnership.
Having got an opportunity now, because of the duo’s suspensions, he has shown that he remains a top class defender – and he has, no doubt, made a strong case for inclusion in the starting team for Chiefs tonight.
Originally from Dobsonville, Gumede had stints at SuperSport United and Mpumalanga Black Aces, but it was during a three-year spell at Platinum Stars (2012-2015) that he rose to prominence.
He was then signed by Orlando Pirates, where things didn’t really go according to plan before he landed the move to new club City two years ago.
Gumede was instrumental in the Cape club’s rapid progress after its establishment as a PSL club, turning in some eye-catching displays in the centre of defence.
But football is never static; it moves and changes all the time. Different coaches have different ideas, and when Tinkler left to join SuperSport and McCarthy took over, it signalled a change in fortunes for Gumede.
But he knuckled down, and waited for his opportunity; now he is back in it, and, in the process, he has made it difficult for the coach to drop him from the team.
But, to ensure that he remains uppermost in McCarthy’s selection thoughts, Gumede has to make sure that he continues to perform; he has to maintain the momentum - and that means shutting out the formidable strike-force of Chiefs tonight.
“Looking at the previous two games, we did well and kept clean sheets,” said Gumede.
“We also managed to get the win in those games. As for Chiefs now, it’s important that we don’t let them score.
“We will get chances and we have to make sure that we bury those chances. We have to keep it clean at the back and I’m sure we can get a goal or two.”
PSL Fixtures Today
Baroka FC v Chippa United; Golden Arrows v Bidvest Wits; Kaizer Chiefs v Cape Town City (FNB Stadium, 8.15pm).