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
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.
HOT-HEADED Luc Eymael Polokwane City coach
TOUGH TIMES Platinum Stars coach Cavin Johnson