City lights out­shine wan­ing Stars

Tin­kler and Ey­mael’s tale of two Cities has ig­nited a rapid re­volt in the Absa Premiership that prom­ises to un­seat reg­u­lar log lead­ers, writes

CityPress - - Sport -

Be­fore the start of the sea­son, Cape Town City did not stand a chance in the chal­leng­ing Absa Premiership be­cause most of the play­ers were non­starters at their pre­vi­ous clubs.

Tshepo Gumede had hardly played at Pi­rates last sea­son, where he only made six ap­pear­ances – five in the league and one in the MTN8. Lehlo­honolo Ma­joro had strug­gled to se­cure a reg­u­lar place at the Buc­ca­neers.

Sur­pris­ingly, the duo had lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties when they were at Pi­rates un­der Eric Tin­kler.

There were also un­cer­tain­ties about the move from Mpumalanga to Cape Town as it un­set­tled some play­ers, with only 14 from the pre­vi­ous sea­son tak­ing the op­tion to re­lo­cate.

But those who made the move have made the most of it. Be­lieve it or not, Cape Town City are the team to beat.

Who would have thought at this time of the sea­son we would be re­fer­ring to them as the sur­prise pack­age? Not many would have bet on them be­com­ing log lead­ers after play­ing only 12 games.

Cape Town are at the sum­mit of the log and yes­ter­day played in their maiden cup fi­nal, the Telkom Knock­out, against Su­per­Sport United. Their coach Tin­kler, who was not given a chance of sur­viv­ing be­yond the open­ing 10 games, has been touted as the next Bafana Bafana coach. This is a vote of con­fi­dence in Tin­kler, who left Or­lando Pi­rates un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously in July.

Un­der Tin­kler, Lebogang Manyama and Aubrey Ngoma are flour­ish­ing and have found a new lease of life. Tin­kler con­tin­ues to bring out the best in them and they con­tinue to mes­merise their op­po­nents.

And there is an­other City in an­other town, Polok­wane, that is also qui­etly mak­ing their mark. Al­though their coach Luc Ey­mael has a short fuse, he has done a tremen­dous job since tak­ing over the reins in June. If the Bel­gian can learn to con­trol his tem­per, he will go far in the South African league.

If they had not dropped two points against Pi­rates, Baroka FC and Golden Ar­rows in the last min­utes of th­ese three games, those six points would have cat­a­pulted fourth-placed Polok­wane City to joint top of the ta­ble.

But they are slowly get­ting their act to­gether – as they demon­strated in the game they played against Plat­inum Stars last week­end. Ey­mael, how­ever, still has a lot of work to do as they seem por­ous at the back.

They also struggle to pro­tect their leads, some­thing Ey­mael needs to work on, in­stead of pick­ing fights with the me­dia and op­pos­ing coaches.

While the two Cities are on the up and up, Plat­inum Stars are fail­ing to shine bright – for now, at least. After win­ning their open­ing game of the sea­son against Su­per­Sport United, their wheels have come off and they are re­ally go­ing through hard times.

Plat­inum Stars have only won two of their 11 matches so far, and it is not sur­pris­ing that they are lan­guish­ing at the wrong end of the ta­ble – at 14, to be ex­act.

Free State Stars are yet to fire un­der­per­form­ing Ital­ian men­tor Gio­vanni Soli­nas. After their 5-1 ham­mer­ing by Mamelodi Sun­downs last week­end, Soli­nas was quoted as hav­ing said he had told man­age­ment he did not be­lieve the cur­rent squad was good enough to sur­vive rel­e­ga­tion.

They are at the bot­tom of the ta­ble, with just one vic­tory un­der their belt. But only a small points gap at the bot­tom end of the log, just one vic­tory would change the cur­rent stand­ings.

High­lands Park, who are yet to win un­der Gor­don Ige­sund, have also strug­gled since their pro­mo­tion to the Absa Premiership. They have one win so far.

New­com­ers Baroka have also found life in the Premiership too hot to han­dle.

PHO­TOS: BACKPAGEPIX

HOT-HEADED Luc Ey­mael Polok­wane City coach

TOUGH TIMES Plat­inum Stars coach Cavin John­son

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