City could play at home in Mbombela

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ROD­NEY REINERS

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.”

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