Cape Town City is giving their coach a reason to smile
CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City are back to winning ways after defeating Black Leopards 2-0 in Thohoyandou, but that's not the only reason coach Jan Olde Riekerink is smiling again.
City's defence has been leakier than a kitchen sieve during this 2020/21 Dstv Premiership campaign with the Citizens conceding 18 goals already - level with second-last placed Maritzburg United as the highest in the league.
Therefore, the fact that City could keep a clean sheet against a team they have never beaten before in the pouring rain and who ran amok against Soweto giants Orlando Pirates over the weekend certainly pleased the Dutchman.
"I knew before (the game) it was going to be a difficult match because Cape Town City had never beaten Black Leopards. That was a big challenge. It was also a big challenge to keep a clean sheet because we have been conceding lots of goals. I think we achieved both because we played very well in the first half," Riekerink said.
The victory raised City back into a respectable fifth position on the table with a superior goal difference of six. This is astounding considering City's defensive woes and that all the attention prior to the start of the season related to whether City would still be able to find the back of the net due to the departure of ace striker Kermit Erasmus to Mamelodi Sundowns
Injuries, suspensions and Covid-19 absentees at various parts of the season have, of course, impacted the defensive alignment. Even against Black Leopards, Riekerink was forced to play winger Craig Martin at right-back in place of captain Thamsanqa Mkhize.
However, the return of Bafana Bafana central defender Taarieq Fielies from suspension on Wednesday was certainly a boost. With Abbubaker Mobara still on the sidelines with a groin injury, it is a chance for Fielies and the impressive young central defender Keanu Cupido to build a potentially strong relationship in the heart of the City backline going forward.
The 23-year-old Cupido could potentially learn plenty from the heart Fielies always displays - like the way he put in a fantastic diving header to clear the ball off the line and keep City's lead intact in Limpopo.
Riekerink certainly appreciated the courage the likes of Fielies and Co. showed, particularly in the second half when the conditions became tougher allowing Leopards to claw their way back into the contest.
"I think the second half Black Leopards came more and more into the game as they produced more fight," he said.
"I think the weather conditions were also difficult, it was raining the whole match. The second half became a battle but we were very stable and it was great that we could score the second goal."
City will hope they can continue this new-found defensive stability when they host the in-form Golden Arrows on Saturday.
"We are climbing in the rankings again and we have Arrows this weekend and hopefully we can go again," Riekerink concluded.