Kwanda Mngonyama is ready to fill the void Robyn Johannes will leave at Cape Town City. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
CAPE TOWN  Cape Town City are fully prepared for the imminent loss of skipper Robyn Johannes.

The central defender penned a pre-contract agreement with Bidvest Wits a few months ago and will link up with his new club for pre-season training in July.

While his absence will be a major disappointment, City believe they already have a replacement ready to go for next season: Kwanda Mngonyama.

The Cape side host Mozambique’s Costa do Sol in a CAF Confederations Cup first round, second leg tie at the Athlone Stadium on Sunday  and Mngonyama is likely to play a critical role in central defence as the Citizens look to march on in this African competition. City won the first leg 1-0.

City coach Benni McCarthy has been vocal about not standing in Johannes’ way. The experienced defender has been hugely influential in the new PSL club’s success over the last 18 months, but he’s 31 and, usually, at that age, footballers start thinking about securing their financial futures. The Wits offer was obviously lucrative, and one that Johannes couldn’t refuse. So, in looking for a player to step into the captain’s boots, City signed the talented Mngonyama from Mamelodi Sundowns.

Since his arrival in January, Mngonyama has been brought along slowly by McCarthy, with the intention of allowing the defender time and space to adapt to his new surroundings. The 24-year-old has always highly touted, but he struggled to break into the Sundowns team and has had loan spells at Wits and Maritzburg United. Now, though, with City and McCarthy having offered the player an opportunity to settle, Mngonyama can perhaps finally do justice to his immense talent.

“It has been a breath of fresh air coming to City,” said Mngonyama. “ They’ve welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like I belong here.”

City eliminated Orlando Pirates from the Nedbank Cup last Wednesday, with Johannes and Taariq Fielies holding the fort in central defence. McCarthy has always used the CAF competition to rotate his players, as it allows him the opportunity to keep everybody in his squad fresh and motivated.

As such, because of the rotation policy, the two central defenders against Costa do Sol are likely to be Mngonyama and Tshepo Gumede  and the fact that these two top-class players are able to step in is a testament to City’s depth at the back.

Mngonyama was in the squad that travelled to Mozambique for the first leg, which means he has first-hand knowledge of what to expect.

“They are a good team,” said the central defender. “So we have to work hard again, like we did in the first leg. Their wingers are quick and they know what to do with the ball when they in possession. We will have to put in a big performance to see this tie out.”

The warning has been posted: City are fully aware that they cannot expect things to go smoothly.


Weekend Argus

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