CAPE TOWN - Thabo Nodada is an indefatigable figure in the heart of the Cape Town City midfield. He has had a stunning start to the new PSL campaign.
City have played just four games - three in the league and one in the MTN8 Cup - but the unflappable midfielder has already picked up two Man-of-the-Match awards: against Maritzburg United and Golden Arrows; the accolades a clear testament that Nodada’s work in the heart of the City midfield has not gone unnoticed.
Football is always obsessed with the pretty and the brilliant. It’s just the nature of the sport we call “the beautiful game”. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a space under the spotlight for the grafters, the workhorses and the unselfish team men. For example: Hlompho Kekana, the man who makes Mamelodi Sundowns tick, has finished second in the PSL Player of the Year award for two consecutive seasons.
City, too, have such a lung-busting presence in Nodada. The 23-year-old from Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal has rocketed to prominence over the last 12 months, revelling in the fact that he has the confidence of his coach, Benni McCarthy. Now, as City prepare to take on Sundowns in an MTN8 semi-final first leg tie at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (3pm kickoff), Nodada will again be a key figure if the Cape side are to emerge victorious.
Although he hails from KZN, it was at Mpumalanga Black Aces where he first started showing promise. He was in the Aces squad relocated to the Mother City after John Comitis bought the franchise. At the time of his arrival in the Cape, though, he was struggling with injury and saw very little game-time during the club’s debut season.
But, once McCarthy took over as coach, there was only one way for Nodada: up. The former Bafana Bafana striker loves players who leave everything on the pitch and, in Nodada, he had a player perfectly suited to this approach to the game.
“We are aware of the depth they have in their squad but we are all up for the match regardless of which team they bring. We have players with real quality so if we apply ourselves correctly, then we are capable of getting the win.” - Roland Putsche#iamCityFC #MTN8 pic.twitter.com/rxh5Kx9Iv0
Regularly, after every week, when the stats for the PSL are released, Nodada delivers astonishing numbers for kilometres covered during a match. For example, in last year’s MTN8 final (where City lost to SuperSport United), Nodada covered an astounding 15.6 kilometres during the game.
Not just that, McCarthy has added another string to the player’s bow, in that the coach encourages him to make intelligent late runs from midfield to get in behind stubborn defences; no doubt, this is another ploy McCarthy wants to utilise against the Brazilians on Saturday. Nodada is aware that it will be tough coming up against a top outfit like Sundowns, but he is looking forward to the challenge.
“After the league draw at the weekend, our focus can now shift to preparing for Sundowns,” said Nodada. “If there’s anything we have learnt from the first MTN8 game (against Maritzburg), it’s that teams generally play at a different intensity, more so when they face us.
“We know that it’s not easy facing a team like Sundowns, they have quality all over the park, but the good thing is that they won’t sit back and wait for us. It’s always an open game, which gives us that extra bit of space to find pockets to operate in. We’ll put our all into this match and then look to complete the job away in the second leg.”