CAPE TOWN – Cape Town City's hot form of late in the PSL is keeping pace-setters Mamelodi Sundowns on their toes.
City, who are second on the league standings, have won their last three fixtures on the trot including a 1-0 victory over Sundowns, to end last year off on a high.
The two teams are currently separated by four points, this after Sundowns, in their first-round catch-up game, edged hosts Ajax Cape Town 2-1 at Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday evening.
City's 40-year-old coach Benni McCarthy gave his side the day off yesterday for them to recharge their batteries ahead of a bus trip to the Free State this afternoon.
The Cape side tackle Free State Stars at Goble Park on Saturday with the aim of making it a season double over their hosts, who occupy third place on the log, two points adrift of City.
Players returning for City are midfielder Mpho Matsi, winger Craig Martin and striker Judas Mosemedi, giving rookie coach McCarthy food for thought.
He felt his charges were good in the previous round’s 1-0 victory over a plucky but struggling Platinum Stars, who, after their latest setback, are fourth from bottom.
That’s who relegation-threatened Ajax Cape Town play next in the Mother City on Friday night - both these sides have only three wins to their names from 16 outings, making it a tough one to call.
“I think we played very well against Stars, especially in the second half," said McCarthy. “We restricted them from creating too many chances, our backline was outstanding. To keep another clean sheet is a very positive sign for us and we will look to maintain that going into Saturday’s game. It’s not easy coming here and picking up three points, but we did what was required of us.”
Not making the trip up north to face Stars is Ebrahim Seedat. His wife is expecting to give birth any day.
That opens the door for Edmilson Dove, 23, to replace him at left-back and he had a cracking outing which earned him plaudits from the coach.
“Edmilson’s chance to play in the starting XI delivered a performance that he can be proud of,” McCarthy said. “So he starts against Stars and expect him to shine again and make life difficult for the home side’s attackers. He is a solid defender and able to help nullify aerial treats, and he is solid in one-on-one situations.”
“It’s nice to be back in the team and helping any way I can,” said Dove.
“I made some mistakes but Benni is a coach who’s always willing to help you grow, and that keeps me on my toes.
“Now for our next challenge, we want to make it four consecutive wins in the league, but we will have to work our socks off to beat a rival who, like us, is challenging strongly for title honours.”
Dove, who joined City at the start of 2017, has had limited game time, but that did not stop him from producing a Man-of-the-Match performance in the win over early log leaders Baroka FC.
The Mozambican international is sure to stake a claim for regular selection now that he’s back in the first team.
A victory for McCarthy’s team will open up a gap between them and Stars, and at the same time keep the pressure on Sundowns.