CAPE TOWN - Eric Tinkler had a huge influence on the rise of Cape Town City. After the Mother City club was established in June last year, the 47-year-old former Bafana Bafana midfielder quickly got to work in building an impressive, exciting squad.
There is no doubt that City’s followers will always have a soft spot for Tinkler. He is, after all, that coach that started it all. In turn, Tinkler, too, will have a soft spot for City; they’re the club that offered him an opportunity to raise his profile after being dumped by Orlando Pirates.
Now, though, sentiment will have to be put aside when Tinkler’s SuperSport take on Benni McCarthy’s City at Mbombela Stadium tomorrow (3.30pm kickoff). It’s a repeat of the MTN8 final, when SuperSport edged City on penalties in October. And, heading into this game, the two clubs find themselves in similar positions: short on goals.
“Trying to find the back of the net seems to be a bit of a challenge, and we just need to work on that,” said Tinkler after SuperSport played to a 0-0 draw with Pirates in midweek.
“Our biggest problem,” said McCarthy after a 4-2 defeat to Maritzburg earlier this week, “is that we don’t score enough.”
It’s an area both Tinkler and McCarthy would have focused on in preparation for tomorrow’s crunch clash. For City, perhaps it’s now time to throw winger Aubrey Ngoma in from the start. The 28-year-old was a match-winning, creative presence for the Cape side last season, but only recently returned to fitness after a lengthy injury-enforced absence.
McCarthy has used the player off the bench in the last two games, with the former Bafana striker stressing that he didn’t want to overload his star and then risk him breaking down again. He wants Ngoma for the rest of the season, so he is erring on the side of caution. But City are in need of more attacking thrust - and Ngoma is certainly the man to provide it.
Meanwhile, over at Ajax, despite their precarious log position - second-from-bottom on the league standings - it’s starting to look more stable. On Wednesday night, there was a lot to like about the 0-0 draw with champions Wits in Johannesburg. It may not have been the most watchable match, but free-for-all entertainment is secondary to Ajax at the moment. Instead, what is more important is to keep things tight and organised; the most glaring aspect of their struggles is the conceding of goals, so the more clean sheets they keep, the more confidence it brings, and the more things will start to turn.
Now, in keeping with the venue issues in the Mother City, Ajax will play their “home” game against Chippa United at Bidvest Stadium tomorrow (8.15pm kickoff). It’s a real toughie, especially as Chippa are certainly the most in-form team in the league. After defeating Kaizer Chiefs in the week, Chippa are now joint-top on the standings.
Ajax coach Stanley Menzo was very happy with his team’s display against Wits on Wednesday - and he’s keen on his players maintaining that momentum against Chippa tomorrow.
“It was a great effort, a great performance,” said Menzo. “We played with discipline against the champions, with good organisation, and were rewarded with a point. There were two moments in the second half when we rode our luck, but it was always important that we made sure that we didn’t concede. With the situation we are in, what is needed is hard work, we have to make the field compact, and we have to work together.”