CAPE TOWN - Ubuntu Cape Town coach Casey Prince admits he is in a rather tricky situation as he prepares his team to play Free State Stars in a Nedbank Cup quarter-final tie at Athlone Stadium on Saturday afternoon (3.30pm kickoff).
Even though the NFD team managed to dispatch of two PSL clubs - Polokwane City and AmaZulu - during their fairy-tale run in the competition, things have changed a bit since then.
Ubuntu’s upset of top-flight opponents came at a time when they hit a purple patch of five matches without defeat. They had even managed to claw their way clear of the relegation zone on the NFD standings.
Last week, though, Ubuntu came unstuck against Jomo Cosmos and, with other results going against them too, they have again been dragged into a second-from-bottom position on the log.
Because of this, American coach Prince feels he may have to prioritise. Obviously, the league is of greater significance because the club needs to remain in the NFD, with the club’s vision of providing opportunities for young players from their youth academy and football school, it’s vital that they secure their NFD status.
“It’s a bit tricky,” said Prince. “Last week’s defeat certainly didn’t help as we now also have to focus on our log position. So we will have to manage it (Cup game) differently than we did before. It’s a difficult situation, but we’ll figure it out.”
Prince and his technical staff have spent a lot of time studying the strengths and weaknesses of opponents Stars, and they are aware that the Free Staters present a far more difficult challenge than Polokwane and AmaZulu.
“We’ve watched footage of their (Stars) games,” said Prince. “I think they are a lot different to the two previous PSL sides we faced. They press to the ball a lot more and are far more direct in how they play. In fact, Stars have a style very similar to the teams we play in the NFD - and I guess we haven’t really dealt very well with that this season.
“But we’ll give it our best shot. We had a great month when we went five games unbeaten, four wins and a draw. I knew there would probably be a hangover after that, and it came in last week’s loss to Cosmos. It was unfortunate - we were winning that game and playing well, when we let things slip and gave it away.”
Ubuntu’s recent improvement has come on the back of some sound performances from a number of promising young footballers. Duncan Adonis (on loan from Cape Town City) and Kamohelo Mahlatsi (on loan from SuperSport United) have provided the creative edge, while the midfield industry has come from Temptation Chiwunga and Jesse Don.
At the back, the defensive pair of Gerome Heutchou-Kuilong and Khanya Gwala continues to grow in confidence with every game.
“In the win over AmaZulu, Jesse got many plaudits for his performance, so the unselfish work of Temptation was overlooked,” said Prince. “But I think they have both done very well for the team."