All eyes on McCarthy’s City as sea­son starts

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ROD­NEY REINERS

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.”

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