CAPE TOWN – Benni McCarthy will be desperate for a better showing from Cape Town City when they host Swaziland’s Young Buffaloes in a Caf Confederation Cup preliminary round, second leg tie at Athlone Stadium tomorrow night (7.30pm kick-off). The Cape side won the first leg 1-0 in Mbabane.
At the weekend, though, City were dire in losing 1-0 to Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. As a result, their hopes of challenging for the PSL title have been dashed - now they have to switch focus to finishing as high as possible on the league standings, go as far as possible in the Confederation Cup and try to win the Nedbank Cup.
City coach McCarthy, though, didn’t mince his words after the Chiefs defeat.
“Too many players did not turn up,” he said. “This is a game where, if you want to win the league, you have to beat the bigger teams, the best teams. You can’t afford to have off days. We were nowhere near our best. We looked nervous and the guys were second best to everything.
For me, Chiefs deserved the three points. We had our moments here and there, but we made too many mistakes and we allowed them in.”
The former Bafana Bafana striker was spot-on in his assessment of his team. In short, it was probably their worst performance of the season; they should really have lost by a far bigger margin. The Cape side lacked creativity and they failed to deal with the opposition’s high press; as a team, they looked disjointed and, in approach, they were largely aimless.
Except for the heroics of goalkeeper Sage Stephens, nobody put up their hands, and nobody played to potential. Right-back Thami Mkhize, such a stalwart for the team, probably had his worst-ever performance in a City jersey, Lyle Lakay is developing an unpleasant selfishness to his game, new signing Matthew Rusike was anonymous (though, in fairness, he never got the service he needs to be effective), and Thabo Nodada, Roland Putsche and Sibusiso Masina gave the ball away so often, and so generously, you’d swear that Christmas had come early.
McCarthy, though, has regularly rotated the squad, which means a different City team is likely to turn up against the Swazis tomorrow. Youngster Shane Roberts came on as a substitute against Chiefs, and didn’t look out of place.
McCarthy said afterwards the 19-year-old is knocking hard for a regular place and he’ll definitely play tomorrow. Another City youngster, Zukile Kewuti, is also in the mix, while Nana Akosah-Bempah, Judas Moseamedi and Ebrahim Seedat will come into contention too. Captain Robyn Johannes, who was suspended for the Chiefs clash, is also available.
City’s heavy schedule then continues on Saturday when they play host to Wits in a league fixture at Athlone Stadium (6pm kickoff). It will be the fifth time these two clubs meet this season: twice in the MTN8, once in the league and once in the Nedbank Cup, and City are yet to lose to the Clever Boys.
The other Mother City team, Ajax Cape Town, spring into action on Sunday when they are in Durban to tackle Golden Arrows.