Thabo Nodada of Cape Town City FC during the 2018 MTN 8 Semifinal first leg football match between Cape Town City FC and Mamelodi Sundowns at Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town on 25 August 2018 ©Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN - The return of the dynamic Thabo Nodada should provide the required impetus as Cape Town City prepare to tackle Orlando Pirates in a PSL fixture at Orlando Stadium tonight (7.30pm kickoff).

The 23-year-old missed City’s 4-1 defeat to Kaizer Chiefs at the weekend due to injury - and, needless to say, the team struggled without his indefatigable presence in midfield. Nodada has since recovered and will be back in action against Pirates tonight.

And, with the Citizens in desperate need of some inspiration after a heavy defeat, coach Benni McCarthy will be hoping Nodada’s energy and enthusiasm will galvanise the team. McCarthy is a huge admirer of the tireless Nodada and, when fit and available, the diminutive yet pugnacious midfielder is always the first name on the City teamsheet.

In reflecting on the Pirates challenge, Nodada said his injury concerns were over and he was looking forward to the clash tonight. “I struggled with a strain in one of my knee ligaments,” said the City midfielder.

“The ligament came together very quickly, but balance and pain were major issues, which is why I missed the Chiefs game. Facing Pirates at Orlando Stadium is always a war zone, it’s always tough. We have to respond, we have to knuckle down and go back to the things we do well. We have to get stuck in and fight as a team. 

"That’s a formula that’s gotten us big results in the past, so we absolutely have to go out there and get back to that. Belief is the one thing we need, especially against the top three or four teams. We have to believe that we are on the same level or even better than them; we have to assert ourselves and have full trust in each and every teammate. We have to believe in the plan and follow it.”

For a professional footballer, Nodada is rather small in stature, but he is the beating heart of the team. He may be tiny in size, but he is big in courage and determination; he just never gives up. 

Whenever he puts on a City jersey, he produces his all for the team: he covers every blade of grass and, with regards to match statistics, the kilometres he runs during the 90 minutes are simply staggering.

“I’ve got a very big heart and I never give up,” said Nodada. “I hate losing because I’m a competitor. I’m small, so I always have to find better ways to cope during a game, like my speed, my agility, I have to get other advantages. In the end, the ball caters to the man who has the ball, not whether it’s the bigger man or a smaller man.”

Those are certainly wise words from a footballer who is rapidly gaining a huge reputation in the PSL. Admired by opponents and supporters alike, Nodada’s career has been on a steady upward trajectory since the arrival of McCarthy as coach.

But, now, he certainly faces a real test of ability and character against Pirates. The Buccaneers are in superb form and getting better and better as the season progresses. At the weekend, Pirates were impressive in dispatching of SuperSport United - and, one thing’s certain, both City and Nodada will have their work cut out tonight.

Cape Times

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