CAPE TOWN – They were down and out – a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Kaizer Chiefs, the coach unavailable, and two goals conceded within 16 minutes against Orlando Pirates.
You almost wouldn’t have blamed the Cape Town City players if they had wanted to walk off the Orlando Stadium pitch at that point on Wednesday night.
But first assistant coach Vasili Manousakis rallied the troops at halftime, and up stepped Ayanda Patosi to fire in two goals that showed why he has played in Belgium and been part of the Bafana Bafana set-up before.
Patosi revealed afterwards that part of the motivation for the comeback was the fact that head coach Benni McCarthy could not be on the bench as his wife was in hospital.
“It was tough out there. We knew when we came from Cape Town to Orlando, it was going to be tough. We didn’t expect to concede the two goals on the set-pieces, but we came into the dressing rooms and the coach pumped us up,” Patosi told SuperSport TV in a post-match interview.
“We know we have to fight – also because the coach is not here. We have to fight for him because he is in the hospital and all that…
“I’m very proud of the boys for the way that they came back and fight.”
After Augustine Mulenga and Innocent Maela put the Buccaneers 2-0 up after 16 minutes, City were in disarray.
But Patosi wasn’t going down without a fight, and rifled home a superb left-footed volley in the 69th minute.
He then whipped in a free kick that beat a flat-footed Jackson Mabokgwane eight minutes later – striker Siphelele Mthembu cleverly skipping over the skidding ball.
“The first goal gave the team the spirit to fight for one more goal, or maybe two. It was a nice goal. When I got to that area, I told myself ‘I just have to shoot, either left or right’, and luckily enough, it was a goal,” Patosi said.
“I (enjoy) taking set-pieces, and I want the ball to go directly towards the goals. Today it went, and I told Shaka (Mthembu) to run to the goalkeeper, and it worked.”
Manousakis praised his team for coming back into the match when all seemed lost.
“We knew that they were going to press us high, and we said that we are going to go into a lower block. We found ourselves 2-0 down from… I say respectfully, two very, very soft goals,” he told SuperSport TV.
“We carry on keeping our shape. We go into halftime, and by that time, I think it’s damage control.
“Then we said ‘Listen, the only way we will have a chance at halftime is to yes, be brave. What are we going to change tactically? We are going to press a little bit higher, and that’s what we did.
“We put our two wingers a little bit higher, we played with two in central midfield. We told Pato ‘You are going to get one or two chances’, and he did fantastically well.
“We are really proud of the boys, and we showed a lot of character. Yes, it’s a point, but we came back from two goals down against a very good team.
“A tale of two halves, and probably a fair result.”
ONCE YOU KNOW WHAT ITS LIKE TO BE TRULY HUNGRY, You will never be FULL #AlwaysStriveForGreatness #WorkExtra #StayHumble 🤞🏾⚽💙 S/O to my Team Mates for the amazing Team work.Big Thank you Our loyal Supporters who kept Motivating & pushing us to stay focused through out the ga pic.twitter.com/5LqLmR5krz
City will now gear up for the MTN8 final against SuperSport United on September 29 at Moses Mabhida Stadium (7pm kickoff), while Pirates face Baroka FC in Polokwane on Saturday (3pm).