Dearth of goal-poachers concerns Riekerink as Premiership opener looms
CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City always knew they were going to be hard-pressed to find a replacement that had the same deadly eye for goal that Kermit Erasmus possesses after the star striker’s move to league champions Mamelodi Sundowns during the off-season.
But they surely did not expect that leading up to Saturday’s Premiership opener against Chippa United at Cape Town Stadium (6pm) they would also be without Fagrie Lakay after the former Wits attacker was red-carded in last weekend's MTN8 quarter-final defeat to Orlando Pirates.
Lakay was issued his marching orders for a reckless tackle on Pirates’ new signing Wayde Jooste within the first 30 minutes of the tie and will miss the next three matches.
City do have the mercurial Aubrey Ngoma to call on after the winger moved back home on a season-long loan from Sundowns, but coach Jan Olde Riekerink remains wary of unleashing him this early in the campaign due to a lack of match-fitness.
Ngoma played just three times in all competitions for the triple champions over the past season and a half.
Furthermore, City are also still without last season’s ace Surprise Ralani. The veteran winger was mesmerising, particularly during the end of season bio-bubble period when he slapped a brace past Denis Onyango in the Sundowns goal.
This leaves Olde Riekerink with precious few options and the Dutchman will most likely have to rely on the lanky Tashreeq Morris upfront. Morris is, though, not a natural goal-poacher and has been used more as a target man in the mould of Eleazar Rodgers and Nathan Paulse that holds the ball up for others to play off.
The 25-year old had a golden opportunity to bust into the hearts of the City faithful in the dying moments of last Saturday’s clash against Pirates. Unfortunately for Morris, he failed to get his head to a delightful in-swinging ball from Abbubaker Mobara and the chance to equalise went begging.
Morris is, however, confident that by continuing to work hard in training he can do the business for City.
“Even if Kermit had stayed and Fagrie wasn’t suspended my work rate and effort everyday would not change. I regard myself as someone who gives everything everyday and leaves the decision up to the coach,” Morris said on Wednesday.
“I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Yes, the opportunity would possibly be there now for me to step up and that’s what I’m focused on now. I’m a firm believer that everything happens by will of the Almighty.”
The fact that Morris is fully-fit again after undergoing a meniscus operation on his left knee last season is also a major confidence booster.
“It feels good to be back to do what I love to train everyday to listen and learn something daily,” he said.
“I’ve overcome those injuries with the help of my wife, kids and family who were there every step of the way. I keep my faith strong and pray that I would have an injury free season.
“My main focus now is to become a regular player in the team to score goals consistently and help the team achieve our goals.”