CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy was a very happy man when he got the medical thumbs-up from the doctor with regards to the availability of Austrian midfielder Roland Putsche.
The Cape side takes on Orlando Pirates in a PSL fixture at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday night (7.30pm kickoff) - and McCarthy will have no hesitation in throwing the influential player into the mix.
Putsche was certainly missed in City’s 2-0 defeat to Kaizer Chiefs last week. The 26-year-old was absent for the Amakhosi clash after suffering a deep, crater-like gash below his chin. The tear needed 17 stitches to repair and occurred during an aerial duel with Wits captain Thulani “Tyson” Hlatshwayo. On medical advice, Putsche was required to rest for a few days.
The combative midfielder travelled to Johannesburg along with the rest of the squad on Sunday, and McCarthy was hopeful that he would receive the go-ahead from the doctors as to whether Putsche would be able to play or not. Putsche underwent a thorough examination on Monday, after which the City coach was given a resounding “yes”.
It means that, with Putsche’s indefatigable presence, the Capetonians are expected to be a lot more solid in the centre of midfield on Tuesday night. Last week, against Chiefs, City missed the player’s lung-busting and abrasive qualities, his intelligent link play and, above all, his composed, hawk-like presence which allows those around him to blossom, safe in the knowledge that Putsche is around to provide cover.
Now, after losing to the one half of Soweto, Chiefs, City are determined to avoid defeat against the other half, Pirates. McCarthy, as a former Buccaneers player, will have some insight as to what to expect. But, and it’s something the former Bafana Bafana striker is fully aware of, with Serbian Milutin Sredojevic now in charge of the popular PSL club, this could be the start of something exciting for Pirates.
The Soweto team has struggled over the last season or two, but already, in this campaign, they’ve shown signs of revival. City have been warned - and they better bring their best against Pirates or run the risk of a second successive defeat. Putsche is definitely aware of the challenge facing City.
“It will be even more difficult than against Chiefs because Pirates are in good form at the moment,” said Putsche. “They love to have possession and I think we have to expect a different, far better Pirates than last season.
“As for Chiefs last week, that was only one game and I don’t want to talk about that anymore. It is part of the business of football to lose games, and then to analyse why it happened and to learn from it. Every single player in our squad should be over that game already and have shifted focus to Pirates.
"The coach (McCarthy) will have prepared us well again. I am sure that, if we can bring to the pitch what he wants from us, then we can go back to Cape Town with more points in our pocket.”
As for Pirates, Sredojevic is slowly but surely turning things around and, at this early stage of the season, the Buccaneers are already looking far, far better than they did last season.
“Although I am happy with our general performance I still believe there are some areas we need to improve on,” said the Pirates coach after Friday's 0-0 draw with Maritzburg United.