CAPE TOWN – Cape Town City and AmaZulu are scheduled to meet twice in the space of five days - and, for the Citizens, it’s an opportunity to finally get new signing Tokelo Rantie into action.
Tomorrow, City open their Telkom Knockout campaign against AmaZulu at the Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban (7.30pm kickoff). On Saturday night, the two teams do battle again, this time in the PSL, with City the hosts at Cape Town Stadium.
The Cape side has been itching to get Rantie on to the field, especially with goals in short supply. While they have been playing good football, the finishing has been disappointing. Rantie was signed at the end of August, with both club boss John Comitis and head coach Benni McCarthy describing the speedy striker as the missing link. An in-form and fit Rantie is probably the best forward South Africa has - and City are hoping he can revive their efforts in front of goal.
Unfortunately, though, when Rantie arrived, he had been out of action for quite some time. His career had stalled; he had, in fact, been thinking about quitting altogether and retiring to his farm in the Free State. But, persuaded by McCarthy that he still had a lot to offer, the player came to the Mother City and started the long journey back to fitness.
Rantie and McCarthy were teammates at Orlando Pirates in 2011. They had a close relationship, which is the main reason why Rantie decided that the way back to football was at City, with McCarthy at the helm. As Rantie remarked soon after joining the Capetonians: “I still have a lot of desire to play football. I feel like I am now at the right club.
Benni played a big role in my life, hence my decision to join Cape Town City. I’ve learnt a lot from him. I once made him a promise that I will play for him one day when he becomes a coach, so I’ve kept my word on that.”
For the last six weeks, the striker has been hard at work with the club’s fitness staff. McCarthy has been adamant that he wouldn’t rush the player; he wanted Rantie to be in the right condition before he handed him a City jersey. That time is now. All indications are that, either tomorrow or on Saturday, Rantie will see some action.
He is getting fitter and sharper, and McCarthy is keen to see how the striker goes. So, whether it’s off the bench or as a starter, domestic football will soon see the return of Rantie - in one of the fixtures against AmaZulu.
Rantie’s presence at City is an opportunity to revive a football career that had once promised so much. A graduate of the Stars of Africa Academy, he played his football in Mozambique for Ferroviario de Beira and then CD Maxaquene. After that, he had a stint at Swedish Second Division side IFK Hassleholm before forging a lethal strike-partnership with McCarthy at Pirates. His career then rocketed: Malmo (Sweden), Bournemouth (England) and more recently Genclerbirligi (Turkey).
Rantie admits, though, that he fell out of love with the game during frustrating spells in England and Turkey - but now, back in his home country, in the fresh new surrounds of the Mother City, under the guidance of his good friend McCarthy, he firmly believes he can get his career back on track.
Telkom Knockout opening round fixture
Tomorrow: AmaZulu v Cape Town City (Princess Magogo Stadium, 7.30pm)
Wednesday: Free State Stars v Golden Arrows
Friday: Wits v Highlands Park
Saturday: Orlando Pirates v Kaizer Chiefs; Polokwane City v Maritzburg United; Chippa United v Mamelodi Sundowns; Cape Town City v AmaZulu (Cape Town Stadium, 8.15pm)
Sunday: Black Leopards v Free State Stars; SuperSport United v Golden Arrows; Bloemfontein Celtic v Baroka FC