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