OPINION: Citizens need A-game to save face
The Citizens have had a nightmare campaign with only five wins from 22 matches.
But they can save face by winning the majority of their remaining eight fixtures, with Bloemfontein Celtic first in the queue.
Now if City bring along their A-game to Athlone Stadium on Sunday (3.30pm kick-off), they’ll win at a canter and bag three valuable log points as well as move away from the danger zone.
But all we’ve seen from a much stronger squad from the previous three seasons is sub-standard fare time and time again, like last time out when they went down 3-2 away to then bottom-placed Polokwane City - rivals they crushed 5-3 at Cape Town Stadium in the first round, the rare win built on a team effort of note.
If that performance is cloned for the remaining games, bank on City netting a top-eight finish - the target club chairman John Comitis had set at the start of the year.
City’s fans will be miffed if their boys don’t get the job done against Celtic.
There have been calls from their side for coach Jan Olde Riekerink’s head. While that may seem a bit harsh, a look at his win record shows it to be only a tad better than his predecessor Benni McCarthy, who was fired nine games into his third season for only bagging one win and eight points.
Olde Riekerink in his 11 games in charge - the first of which was against Celtic - has bagged three wins, four draws and four losses.
The Dutch tactician has had enough time now to get his charges to play the way he wants them to and will from now on be judged on results.
The players are the ones who need to buy into his way of doing business and must also realise that their futures with the club are on the line.
So, with so much at stake, maybe a change in fortunes is on the cards.
The likes of Bradley Ralani and Thabo Nodada can get the ball rolling, two slightly-built characters who have earned their salaries month in and month out.
Craig Martin is another who gives it his all when called upon, which hasn’t been the case often enough.
The coach might want to give him a chance on the right wing, use his pace and flair to run at and open up the defence, and provide assists to whoever fills the role of striker - the likely choice here being fit-again Tasreeq Morris, whose height in the penalty area could prove telling.
It remains to be seen whether Kermit Erasmus will play - his troublesome hamstring may keep him out - although he did hint that he might feature.
If he fails a last-minute medical, Fagrie Lakay is another option if Olde Riekerink opts for two marksmen.
Shane Roberts has been tried unsuccessfully at the top of the formation, but playing behind the front line could see him do something special.
For City to turn the corner will require their defence to stand tall and protect goalkeeper Peter Leeuwenburgh, who has seen the ball end up in the back of his net 32 times this season.
Mike de Bruyn