CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City are in a race against time to sort out Victor Obinna’s paper work, so they can get their new Nigerian star signing on to the field of play.
The Cape side has two PSL fixtures to negotiate this week: Tuesday night, they face Orlando Pirates at the Orlando Stadium (kick-off 7.30pm) and on Friday they host Polokwane City at the Cape Town Stadium (8pm).
According to club boss John Comitis, Obinna’s availability for Tuesday's Pirates game is “50-50”, but for Friday against Polokwane it is “a definite yes”.
Signed last week, City are looking forward to the debut of the 30-year-old Nigerian striker. Obinna has played for Chievo and Inter Milan in Italy, Málaga in Spain, West Ham in England, Lokomotiv Moscow in Russia and MSV Duisburg and SV Darmstadt in Germany, and was a teammate of coach Benni McCarthy’s at West Ham. Comitis is in the process of finalising the player’s registration.
McCarthy was the main instigator behind the signing of Obinna, and the City coach revealed how it all came about: “Obinna is a good friend of mine. I’ve known him from his days in the Nigerian national team, when he used to be a strike partner for Obafemi Martins. I came across him at West Ham. He was young then, and I took him under my wing as I was on the way out. We became friends and we’ve just kept in touch over the years.
“I recently learnt he was a free agent. If a player is in Europe, why would he want to come to South Africa? So it took a little persuasion when I asked him to play for us. To my surprise, he agreed and he came down. This is his way to get back into top-flight football, and why not with Cape Town City?”
If there’s a club McCarthy has always had a soft spot for, it’s Pirates. It’s the reason why, when he returned to South Africa in 2011 after a successful European sojourn, he spent two years at the Soweto club to see out his career. In the process, he was also able to add the PSL title to his many accolades.
Tuesday night, though, McCarthy will have to put aside any lingering sentiment. Having come off a 2-0 loss to Kaizer Chiefs last week, the Capetonians will be determined to avoid defeat this time. Against Amakhosi, McCarthy’s City were undone by a simple taste of their own medicine, in that Chiefs sat back, allowed the Cape side to have the ball, and hit them effectively on the counter. Will Pirates do the same? Will rookie coach McCarthy be better prepared this time?
Also, against Chiefs, the former Bafana Bafana striker made six changes to the starting team, adamant he needed to rotate because of a tough programme that saw City qualify for next month’s MTN8 final against SuperSport United. While the players who came in did the business as far as performance was concerned, the result wasn’t forthcoming. Now the big question is: Against Pirates, what can we expect from McCarthy with regard to the starting team?
One thing’s certain, former Pirates stars like Robyn Johannes and Teko Modise will be keen to have a go. Modise, 34, and Johannes, 30, were teammates of McCarthy during his years at Pirates - and the trio will likely be cooking up a devilish recipe to ensure they emerge with something positive from tomorrow’s clash.
After Pirates, City have another challenge on Friday against Polokwane City, while neighbours Ajax Cape Town are in Polokwane on Saturday afternoon to take on an in-form Baroka FC.