CAPE TOWN – Home - where else would you want to be?
The return of the Mother City’s prodigal sons appears to be a bit of a trend at Cape Town City. It’s done wonders for revitalising the career of Strandfontein defender Robyn Johannes – and for winger Lyle Lakay, it’s no different.
City take on Chippa United in a PSL fixture at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane this afternoon, and head coach Benni McCarthy is looking for another consistent performance from 26-year-old Lakay.
Signed from Bloemfontein Celtic in July this year, Lakay – originally from Silvertown in Athlone – is chuffed to be playing at home again.
“I’m definitely happy to be back home,” said Lakay.
“It’s always a good feeling playing in front of your family and everyone in your home city, and also not forgetting the type of team that City is. That was also one of the reasons why I came home.
“I’m enjoying it so far, just the first few months and already we’ve been in a cup final. It’s a big achievement, even though we lost in the final.
“I think my first game or first few games I was a bit nervous, but I think I’ve settled in well.”
Lakay’s father Sean is a legend at amateur club Stephanians and, like his son, was an accomplished left-wing for the Western Province Football Board teams during the late 1980s.
As always, Lakay initially followed his dad’s footsteps by playing for Stephanians – but by the time he was 11, he joined the youth academy at Hellenic.
From there, it was on to the Old Mutual Academy – from Under-13 to Under-17. It was while playing for Mutual at the popular Bayhill Under-19 tournament that Lakay was spotted and scouted by PSL club SuperSport United.
He would later have a loan spell with FC Cape Town before joining Bloemfontein Celtic – and now, of course, he is back home, and loving it.
In last week’s MTN8 final defeat on penalties to SuperSport United, Lakay missed one of the spot-kicks, but he’s already put the disappointment behind him and is focused on making sure that City emerge victorious against Chippa today.
“Losing the final was very disappointing and difficult to accept, not only because we were the better team and deserved to win it, but also because I missed the penalty,” said Lakay.
“But it’s part of football – it’s in how you get back up and respond that is what really makes us as players.
“So, going forward, I want to continue contributing in helping the team succeed and win every other silverware there is on offer, because that’s what we play for.”
But Lakay is also fully aware of the difficulty of the challenge presented by Chippa.
Formerly based in Cape Town, the Eastern Cape-based club is always a dangerous opponent to underestimate.
And what’s more, they have shown tremendous improvement under Orlando Pirates midfield legend Teboho Moloi, the latest caretaker-coach at the club.
Moloi will know his counterpart, McCarthy, very well. During the City coach’s stint when finishing off his playing career at Pirates – from 2011 -2013 – Moloi was the Soweto club’s assistant coach.
“Obviously we all know what Chippa are about,” said Lakay.
“They can knock the ball around and are a good team. It’s going to be a tough one, but we’ve shown before what we can do and we are up for the challenge.”