All eyes on McCarthy’s City as season starts
THE WAIT is almost over. After a dreary off-season lull, the football action is just about upon us as Cape Town City prepare to get things under way with an MTN8 quarterfinal clash with Polokwane City at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday afternoon (kickoff 3pm).
The league campaign commences next week, but this cup competition, which features last season’s top eight teams on the log standings, annually acts as a precursor to the main event: an appetiser, if you will; a taste of the season ahead.
Having finished third on the PSL table last season, City, as per the format of the competition, will take on the team that finished sixth – Polokwane. And, especially, considering how well the Limpopo Province side performed last season, this is a real tricky opener for the Capetonians.
For City, there’s a great deal at stake. It’s not so much getting off to a good start – but, after the sensational impact they made in their debut campaign, all eyes are glued on the Cape club to see how they go this time, especially with former Bafana Bafana striker Benni McCarthy now in charge of the team.
While McCarthy’s presence will garner attention, so, too, will the high-profile new signings, Teko Modise, Ayanda Patosi and Lyle Lakay. But, and the new coach will be the first to admit it, new players normally take a while to adapt, which means that the responsibility for the team’s stability is firmly in the hands of the experienced old hands: Like central defender Robyn Johannes.
In fact, when McCarthy returned from a highly successful time in Europe and signed to finish off his career at Orlando Pirates in 2011, Johannes was one of his teammates. Modise, who arrived in the Cape last month as City’s “Hollywood name”, was also in the Pirates squad at the time. Now, with McCarthy as coach, and seasoned campaigners Johannes and Modise still going strong, City have an axis upon which they can plot a campaign to elevate the club even further.
“Many good players don’t often go on to become good coaches,” said Johannes. “But Benni is a winner … We’ve been friends for a long while, even before he came to Pirates, I know him well, and I am confident that he will be successful as a coach.
“I played with Teko at Pirates and he is a great signing for us. He’s a big name player and I can assure you he is hungry, and he has a point to prove. He won’t just be good for us on the pitch, but off it he can also make a contribution.”