CAPE TOWN – Benni McCarthy has a few decisions to make ahead of Cape Town City’s next challenge, a difficult PSL fixture against Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium tomorrow (7.30pm kickoff).
Still hurting after a 4-1 defeat to Kaizer Chiefs over the weekend, McCarthy will have to tweak his defence while he also has a few injury concerns to monitor. To compound matters, McCarthy will have to pick his team for Pirates with one eye on the MTN8 final - against SuperSport United in Durban next Saturday.
But these are the type of tests and match-defining decisions which add to a new coach’s experience. McCarthy has always loved a challenge - and this should be no different.
Against Chiefs, Taariq Fielies was sent off, which will necessitate a new central defensive partnership for City. Kwanda Mngonyama has played alongside Fielies in recent weeks, but McCarthy has a few options to consider with regards to selection for the Pirates game.
“It’s an opportunity, and it’s motivation for whoever gets the nod,” said McCarthy. “Kouassi Kouadja has played there before and he has been exceptional every time he has been on the pitch. But, with a new pair at the back, it may take some time to adjust.”
Ivorian defender Kouadja, just 23-years-old, has shown some promise, though McCarthy admitted the player needed some time to get to grips with his new surroundings.
Kouadja is the most likely replacement for Fielies, but McCarthy also has the option of bringing in Keanu Cupido.
The 20-year-old South African youth international was on the books of French club AC Ajaccio before being lured back home to sign for City. He has already shown his ability in defence this season and even scored the winning goal in the MTN8 quarter-final win over Maritzburg United.
The other option is to shift captain Thami Mkhize from right-back to centre-back, but this is where McCarthy will have to rely on his medical staff for guidance. Both Mkhize and winger Craig Martin have injury concerns and will have to be assessed before the City coach decides whether they will make the travelling party to Soweto.
Two weeks ago, City announced the high-profile capture of Tokelo Rantie. The bustling 28-year-old Bafana Bafana striker, however, was not used against Chiefs at the weekend,
There’s no reason why the striker cannot be handed some game time against Pirates, even off the bench. City need an injection of confidence, and a good performance against Pirates could be just what they need.