Cape Town City hedge their bets on Martin as the gam­ble for su­pe­ri­or­ity be­gins

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - RODNEY REIN­ERS

CAPE Town City’s ap­proach has been re­fresh­ingly dif­fer­ent. Never afraid to gam­ble, they have of­ten ben­e­fited from hand­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­di­vid­u­als oth­ers deem too risky.

For ex­am­ple, City brought in a num­ber of un­known, un­tried for­eign­ers last sea­son – in­clud­ing Aus­tralians James Brown and Matt Sim, Lat­vian Re­nars Rode and Aus­trian Roland Putsche. New to the PSL, it was al­ways go­ing to be a huge throw of the dice. Brown, Sim and Rode were soon on their way, un­able to cope, but, in Putsche, the Cape club dis­cov­ered a real jewel.

This sea­son, it has been no dif­fer­ent. The gam­bling con­tin­ues. Benni McCarthy has no ex­pe­ri­ence as a head coach – but that didn’t worry City and they’ve taken a chance on the for­mer Bafana Bafana striker.

And so, too, by sign­ing lo­cal young­ster Craig Martin, the Cape club has found an­other hid­den foot­baller who hasn’t been handed a proper op­por­tu­nity at the high­est level. A speedy, com­mit­ted right wing-back, City have high hopes that the player can make the nec­es­sary progress that will el­e­vate him to the PSL team in time to come. At 23, Martin may seem a bit old to be ar­riv­ing in pro­fes­sional foot­ball for the first time, but for City boss John Comi­tis that is, in fact, ex­actly the mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor.

“Some play­ers have not been for­tu­nate enough to be no­ticed at a young age, or didn’t play at the clubs that pro­moted youth,” said Comi­tis. “Some­times they can get lost and some­times, at 23, it’s al­most too late to be con­sid­ered... But I be­lieve Craig may still sur­prise us all and make his mark at this stage of his ca­reer, es­pe­cially based on his be­lief in his abil­ity, and the guts he has been show­ing at train­ing.”

Martin is from the Fac­tre­ton/Kens­ing­ton area, a sub­urb that has, over the years, al­ways pro­duced a wealth of foot­ball tal­ent such as for­mer Bafana Bafana striker Shaun Bartlett and in more re­cent times stars Gran­wald Scott and Riyaad Noro­dien.

Martin is fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of such for­mer stars.

“I’m very happy to have signed for City,” said Martin. “I’m look­ing to achieve the goals I set for my­self while grow­ing up in Kens­ing­ton and to push to be a reg­u­lar starter. I also want to show the club, the city and the coun­try what I can do.”

City as­sis­tant-coach Ian Tay­lor is the man who has been mon­i­tor­ing Martin’s progress as a player – and it was he who sug­gested new City coach McCarthy have a look.

“Benni is Bafana’s all-time top goalscorer and estab­lished him­self as a top striker, not only in SA but in Por­tu­gal and Eng­land too,” said Martin. “He’s a role model, he’s al­ways will­ing to give play­ers a chance and he shows mas­sive be­lief in the squad.”

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