Cape Town City captain Lebogang Manyama plots his next move against Paulus Masehe of Free State Stars. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix

No, it’s not time to hand the PSL title to Wits as yet.

Cape Town City made sure of it when they gave notice that they are still firmly in the race for the league trophy after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Free State Stars here on Friday night.

After Wits defeated Orlando Pirates earlier in the week, to go five points clear of City, there was a sense that that was about it. The Clever Boys had edged ahead and were probably the overwhelming favourites to go all the way.

But this City side never know when they are beat. It doesn’t know when to give up. And, while they weren’t at their best on Friday night, the result was all that mattered.

Sometimes, in a challenge for a league championship, teams have to grind out a result even when the performance is not up to scratch.

On this occasion, against a Stars team that hadn’t come to play, that had come to park a bus and hopefully catch the Capetonians on the counter, it was always going to be a struggle.

City eventually managed to pull it off – but with three games to go, and the Cape side not playing all that well in their last two games, the warning signs should be clanging for coach Eric Tinkler.

If City are to continue to put pressure on log leaders Wits, then they are going to have to find their mojo again.

As it stands now, Wits top the PSL standings with 54 points, followed by City on 52 and Mamelodi Sundowns on 51.

The importance of victory in Friday night’s fixture was immediately evident when Tinkler announced his starting team. With the Cape side desperately needing a win to stay in the title race, it was a side clearly set out for all-out attack.

Usually the Capetonians play with just one forward, but this time they deployed both Letsie Koapeng and Judas Moseamedi up front. Occasionally, Moseamedi would drift out wide on the right, but in general, the idea was to have more of a presence in attack.

And with central defender Tshepo Gumede suspended and Thato Mokeke dropping back to replace him, the attack-minded Thabo Nodada was drafted into midfield.

Aubrey Ngoma of Cape Town City tries to shied the ball from Tamsanqa Teyise of Free State Stars. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix


But the problem with playing a struggling, beleaguered side like Stars is that there’s not going to be much space within which to operate. The Free State side are relegation-threatened, so they obviously weren’t prepared to give anything away.

They stuck to their negative game plan, stayed tight and compact, and made sure that they were always in shape and structured in defence. As a result, the Capetonians struggled to break them down.

While City dominated the possession and territory, they just appeared to lack the intensity, urgency and sense of purpose that has characterised the majority of their season.

The Cape side played some good football in patches, displaying the swift, sweet inter-passing which has been so effective during their debut campaign, but in truth, they just weren’t able to pull it off consistently enough.

On the two occasions when they managed to find a way beyond Stars’ resolute defensive line in the first half, the Free State club’s goalkeeper Thela Ngobeni saved brilliantly to foil first Koapeng and then Aubrey Ngoma.

Ten minutes into the second half, with City needing a bit more creativity and spark, Koapeng was replaced by Bhongolethu Jayiya. The change resulted in the Capetonians reverting to their preferred one-striker formation, with Moseamedi as the focus of their attack.

It paid dividends, with Jayiya putting right back Vincent Kobola in the clear, and his cross picked out a rising Moseamedi to power a glancing header into the net.

It has certainly been a great time of late for Moseamedi. He netted a late winner to hand City a 3-2 win over Kaizer Chiefs two weeks ago and on Friday night, he again popped up when his team were desperately in need of a hero.

The goal was just the tonic for City to, finally, realise that they needed to be more goal-minded in their approach.

Ngoma should have increased their advantage when set up by the inspired Moseamedi, but the winger hoofed his shot over the bar.

@Reinerss11

Independent Media

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