Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy was left pining for the quick-witted innovation of the club’s former captain and talisman Lebogang Manyama after Friday night’s hard-fought 1-0 win over AmaZulu at the Cape Town Stadium.
While the victory was a fantastic shot in the arm for City, as it places them back among the challengers at the top of the PSL standings, McCarthy was still not entirely satisfied with the level of performance.
“Nobody is really looking to take the initiative,” said the former Bafana Bafana striker. “We tried to play - we tried to use the experience and intelligence of Aubrey Ngoma; we tried to get Aubrey to play in the pockets of space so that we could get behind the organised AmaZulu defence.
“It was particularly this aspect which Manyama was very good at exploiting. Now, though, everybody wants the ball at the feet, but nobody is making the runs behind the defence. While we got the win in the end, I thought a few of my players didn’t really pitch up, and that is why we struggled.”
Manyama was the inspiration behind City’s sensational rise as a PSL club last season. He has since moved on to play for Konyaspor in Turkey.
McCarthy, though, was pleased with the impact made by his substitutes on Friday night.
“Look, with Victor Obinna and Aubrey, who have just come back from long injuries, the plan was always to get them off, irrespective of how the game was going. Last week, they played about 50 minutes, and this time I gave them about 60 minutes.
“But I have to say the subs were very positive. Lyle Lakay, and then Teko Modise was able to play the passes in behind, and Nana Akosah-Bempah was just a breath of fresh air.
“He was fearless, and that was where the goal came from. So I’m happy with the replacements. I’m happy for the win. It was coming, though; we have been playing some decent football, we’ve just been a bit unlucky, so I’m glad the team could close this one out.”
Next up for City will be log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, a fixture scheduled for Loftus Versveld in Pretoria on Tuesday night; it will be the Cape side’s final game of 2017 - and they will be looking to finish off on a high.
“We just have to continue to push,” said McCarthy. “We have to focus for the entire game because a team only gets to rest once the final whistle goes. While fortune favoured us against AmaZulu, I will take it because there were so many other games in which we were unlucky and threw the points away.”