City could play at home in Mbombela
CAPE TOWN CITY could be in for yet another frustrating season if the City of Cape Town continues to drag its feet with regards to a more permanent training venue for the vibrant football club.
City are training in the Green Point precinct at the moment, thanks to a gentlemanly agreement with rugby club SK Walmers. But, by October, as happened last season, City will have to move on and find a new venue.
It’s no secret that Eric Tinkler was a seriously embittered coach last season when he had to trek his team all over the city, from venue to venue, to train and prepare for games. As a professional coach, accustomed to proper, professional facilities, for Tinkler the situation at City just wasn’t on. And, while he may not have said it, there are many who believe that City’s issues in this regard was one of the reasons why the coach decided to move on.
Make no mistake, the new man in charge – Benni McCarthy – is likely to be just as disappointed and angry if the scenario continues.
City boss John Comitis is aware of the situation and, while he is not in panic mode yet, he is hoping that the city’s administrators can come to the party soon.
“It’s not ideal,” said Comitis. “I am continuing to work with the city, but it is taking time. There are a few options available and we are waiting on the go-ahead. In three months’ time, we will have to move from the Green Point venue where we are at the moment, and then we will become nomadic again. It’s already worrying me – because it would mean that, a year later, we are no better than before with regards to training facilities.”
It’s not only the training problem that concerns Comitis, it’s a game venue as well. As it stands right now, because of availability, City will play only eight of their 15 home matches at the Cape Town Stadium. For the club, that, too, is problematic. They are not keen to play at Athlone Stadium (there is no doubt that, over the years, interest in the former Cape’s “home of football” has waned; it doesn’t appeal to fans as much anymore). As such, Comitis is already in negotiation with Newlands Rugby Stadium and the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit for the rest of the club’s home games. City have built up quite a following all over the country – and Comitis has no doubt they’ll bring in a crowd at Mbombela.
Comitis also confirmed that the plan to build the club’s own 10 000-seater stadium remains uppermost in his vision. As soon as they have secured a location, it will go ahead.
“At the moment, we are not in control of our environment,” he emphasised. “It’s what every football club should have, and it’s something I want City to have.”
On the field, though, as City prepare for the new PSL season, things are looking good with former Bafana Bafana striker McCarthy at the helm.
“There has been a fantastic response to Benni’s presence from the players,” said Comitis. “They are flying at training – and I think they have realised that he will play what he sees. Nobody is assured of a place in the team and they have to work hard to impress the coach. As such, the players are expressing themselves at training and in friendlies, and it’s creating a healthy environment in the squad.”
City’s new signings include veteran midfielder Teko Modise, striker Ayanda Patosi, Mozambican defender Jeitoso, former Bloemfontein Celtic winger Lyle Lakay and two recent additions in Taariq Fielies (from Milano United) and youngster Craig Martin (from Glendene). Comitis said he was looking at adding one more attacker before the start of the campaign. Star winger Aubrey Ngoma is expected to be out for four months after undergoing an operation and, during pre-season, Judas Moseamedi injured his knee and is likely to be out for more than a month. Because of this, and even though Lakay can play on both flanks, Comitis and McCarthy feel that they need more cover out wide.
But, all in all, the main aim is just to go out this season and continue where they left off.
“We did extremely well in a short period of time,” said Comitis. “But that’s in the past and there’s a new challenge ahead. Benni is urging a faster, more aggressive approach and, importantly, he feels the team never punished the opposition enough last season.”