CAPE TOWN - Last season, despite Cape Town City’s sensational impact in the PSL, the big weakness was strength in depth. In essence, the squad, as a whole, just wasn’t good enough. When injury or suspension hit, there weren’t too many players to turn to. Not so this season
Club boss John Comitis and new head coach Benni McCarthy have been very shrewd in the transfer market - and, in Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over Platinum Stars, the overall quality of the squad was the highlight of the evening. Despite resting a number of regular starters, City came through with flying colours, with the players coming in making valuable contributions to the team performance.
Now, with City preparing for Sunday afternoon’s first leg MTN8 semi-final tie against Wits at Cape Town Stadium (3.30pm kickoff), McCarthy has been left with an almighty selection headache.
“It’s a nice problem to have, though,” said McCarthy. “If the guys can continue to bombard me, and play so well that I don’t know who to pick, then I am happy. If they can keep giving me 100 percent, and keep leaving everything on the pitch, then who am I to complain.”
Ayanda Patosi, Lyle Lakay, Taariq Fielies, Vincent Kobola, Ebrahim Seedat and Letsie Koapeng were all drafted into the starting team, with the City coach clearly keeping one eye firmly on Sunday’s Cup clash. His faith in the rest of the squad was repaid as all of them delivered smart contributions towards the team’s triumph.
Patosi led the way with a superb performance of energy and enthusiasm, including a stunning goal in the second half. Lakay struggled in the first half, but was much, much better in the second, and he was afterwards named as the Man of the Match.
Kobola was as consistent as ever, while Fielies certainly never looked out of place. To add to that, veteran Teko Modise came on as a second-half replacement, to make his City debut, and his presence improved the composure of the team.
Fielies came through the Ajax Cape Town youth academy, but had played most of his senior football in the NFD with Milano United. Despite the player’s lack of PSL experience, McCarthy had no hesitation in picking the defender - and the former Bafana Bafana striker had a special word of praise for the 25-year-old.
“Taariq gave me that old-fashion Cape Town attitude that I know so well,” said the City coach. “You know, when you play with your heart, when you give everything and don’t worry about what comes next week. Only this present 90 minutes matter I was impressed with his performance.”
To further emphasise McCarthy’s confidence in each and every player, he was even able to substitute star player Lebogang Manyama at halftime, deciding to rest his captain ahead of Sunday’s game.
“To be honest, I was initially going to leave Manyama out from the start,” he said. “But then I thought that it would be too negative, it would give the opposition some confidence. So I picked Lebo from the start, knowing that Platinum would have to worry about him. At halftime, though, with the field quite heavy from the rain, I thought it best to take him out, I knew we had enough quality on the field.”
For McCarthy, and City, it’s now three wins on the trot - and they are looking to continue the momentum when they tackle the Clever Boys.
“I guess you could say, as a coach, for me it’s just beginner’s luck,” said McCarthy. “But, really, it’s all about this squad of players. They are all in it for each other - and even those players who are left out of the team are right there emotionally with those on the field."