CAPE TOWN – The PSL is in a state of uncertainty. Football clubs are in a situation where they have to prepare their squads while, at the same time, Ajax Cape Town are looking to interdict the start of the season.
Because of this, Cape Town City are focusing on things they can control: their team and what they want to achieve. Despite the administrative upheaval - Ajax’s court proceedings continue today - the PSL fixtures for the 2018-19 season have been released, with City scheduled to face SuperSport United on the opening day (August 4) at the Cape Town Stadium.
As part of head coach Benni McCarthy’s preparations for next week’s fixture - the season will commence as scheduled if Ajax fail in their bid to delay the start - City are scheduled to play a pre-season friendly against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday. The Mpumalanga Cultural Experience Cup will be played at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit (kick-off 3pm).
The friendly will provide McCarthy with an opportunity to have a look at where he’s at with his team, and allow him to have a closer gander at the new players. A match against Chiefs is always a good way to ascertain how a player responds to pressure.
City’s new men include wingers Riyaad Norodien and Gift Links, Ivorian defender Kouassi Kouadja and former Kaizer Chiefs and Free State Stars striker Siphelele Mthembu. Two youngsters have also been included: SA U20 defender Keanu Cupido and striker Karabo Ngwenya. Cupido was signed from French club AC Ajaccio.
But it’s the old guardwho are likely to feature prominently for McCarthy - Roland Putsche, Mpho Matsi and Teko Modise in midfield, the creative impetus provided by Ayanda Patosi and the always reliable right-back Thami Mkhize, who took over the captaincy in the absence of Robyn Johannes last season. With Johannes having left, Mkhize is the leading candidate to be handed the captaincy.
Mkhize, from Cato Ridge in KwaZulu-Natal, hardly ever has had a bad game, and the quality of his performances since arriving at City has seen him become a regular in the Bafana Bafana squad.
“It would be a big honour for me to lead the team,” said Mkhize. “But obviously no final decision has been made about the captaincy yet. But, I definitely look forward to wearing the armband with pride this season to help my club as best I can in all aspects.”
Mkhize believes it’s looking good at City.
“The new players have fitted in well with us,” he said. “They have really made a big effort to adapt to the team and to adjust to life in Cape Town. As a team, we’ve really worked hard since we’ve started pre-season. The coach and his technical team must be commended for the work they’ve done with us. The guys have all come to the party to ensure we will be ready by the time the first PSL game comes.”
As for the Chiefs friendly on Saturday, Mkhize said they were in for a really tough, competitive encounter.
“The coaches will expect us to play at a higher intensity than we have in previous friendlies,” said the right-back. “This one will be more like a league match because of the opposition we face and because of the magnitude of it. But this Chiefs match is the ideal preparation for our first league match against SuperSport.”