CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City boss John Comitis is ecstatic at having been able to beef up the squad with the acquisition of two highly talented attackers in Riyaad Norodien and Gift Links.
Norodien, from Kensington, came through the Ajax Cape Town academy and went on to play for Orlando Pirates and Platinum Stars. Signing for City is certainly a home-coming for the tricky winger - and there’s no doubt he will be a key instrument of attack for head coach Benni McCarthy this coming season.
Links is a 19-year-old who first came to prominence at Platinum Stars before a high-profile move to Egypt to play for Pyramids FC. His performances caught the eye to such an extent that he was called up by Bafana Bafana for the Cosafa Cup, where head coach Stuart Baxter raved about the youngster’s ability. Now, as usual, Comitis hasn’t let any grass grow under his feet - and, when the teenager became available, the astute football administrator pounced to lure the player to the Mother City.
City’s preparations for the new PSL season are in full swing and the Cape club has only one objective: to improve their work in the final third, which, in turn, should boost their goal tally. In fact, City’s two headline signings - Norodien and Links - are an indication of just how seriously the club wants to beef up its offensive play.
“We analysed how we played last season and the one thing we knew we had to improve on was the final third,” said Comitis. “We had lots of possession, we created many scoring chances, but the ball just never hit the back of the net regularly. So, for this season, we have looked at bringing in some high level players with the technical quality and intelligence to boost our play in the final third.
“I think in Riyaad (Norodien) and Gift (Links) we have two such players. We all know Riyaad’s quality and Gift is an absolute talent who will provide us with greater impetus in attack. He has fitted in really nicely with the squad and we are confident he will be a good acquisition.”
New signing Gift Links looks set to make a massive impact on the PSL this season. Guess his new jersey number to stand a chance to win a signed Gift Links CTCFC kit! 💥😱#iamCityFC #Competition pic.twitter.com/d8NbboAh3d
But, in as much as Norodien and Links are the new kids on the block, Comitis was confident that City would get even better performances from the rest of the squad this season. “Let me just remind you that we have a rejuvenated Ayanda Patosi, who is ready to go,” said Comitis.
“Last season, he probably only played at 50 percent of his capability, so, in effect, this season he is like a new signing for us. Striker Matthew Rusike had a few niggles last season and he will be fresh and ready now. We are excited, and believe we will get goals from him. Surprise Ralani has come into his own on the wing and, in midfield, we have Thabo Nodada, Teko Modise, Roland Putsche and Mapho Matsi - you couldn’t ask for more.”
As for the defence, where the big question is how City will do in the absence of influential former captain and central defender Robyn Johannes (now with Bidvest Wits), Comitis wasn’t too concerned; he was confident they had enough quality.
“Our new signing at the back - 23-year-old Ivory Coast defender Kouassi Kouadja - has come on in leaps and bounds,” said the City boss. “He is an intelligent footballer and will do well for us. But we also have Kwanda Mngonyama and Taariq Fielies in defence; last season was Fielies’ first full participation in the PSL, he will get even better. I believe we are solid enough at the back.”
City, though, will lose left-wing Lyle Lakay, who will soon be on his way to Mamelodi Sundowns. Capetonian Lakay cut his football teeth at Stephanians-Ottery, Hellenic and the Old Mutual Academy before success in the PSL with clubs like SuperSport United, Bloemfontein Celtic and City. Now he’s landed the big one - a move to champions Sundowns.