Comi­tis backs McCarthy to en­sure City avoid im­plo­sion of the Le­ices­ter kind

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ROD­NEY REIN­ERS

CAPE TOWN City boss John Comi­tis is acutely aware of the pit­falls of the sec­ond sea­son syn­drome – and has drummed home to his squad the dan­gers of com­pla­cency as they pre­pare to get the 2017-2018 cam­paign un­der way.

City host Polok­wane City in an MTN8 quar­ter­fi­nal tie at the on Sat­ur­day (kick-off 3pm). Last sea­son, the Capeto­ni­ans sur­prised with an en­er­getic, ex­cel­lent de­but sea­son, but the chal­lenge is ex­pected to be even greater this time around. Le­ices­ter City are the per­fect ex­am­ple: Af­ter win­ning the English Pre­mier­ship, they slumped to or­di­nar­i­ness the fol­low­ing sea­son – and it is that kind of im­plo­sion that City, and Comi­tis, are de­ter­mined to guard against.

“We know it will be much more dif­fi­cult this sea­son,” said Comi­tis. “But we are con­fi­dent the team will do well again… In terms of what I’ve seen, I think we are 35-40 per­cent bet­ter pre­pared than we were this time last sea­son. But, as I told the play­ers, that is still not enough. As far as I am con­cerned, what is more im­por­tant is that the play­ers need to give the same com­mit­ment, co-op­er­a­tion, team work and fight they did in the last cam­paign. If we get that, then half the job is done.

“We are also aware of the need to be just as dis­ci­plined this sea­son. This squad, in­clud­ing the new play­ers we have added, have un­be­liev­able at­tack­ing qual­ity. They are an ex­cit­ing team when they go for­ward, but I have stressed to them that we have to be just as good when it comes to de­fence, struc­ture and dis­ci­pline. The PSL is a com­pet­i­tive league and every team de­serves re­spect. So, as we pre­pare to play Polok­wane, every­body is mind­ful of what’s at stake, and just as aware of the need to get off to a pos­i­tive start.”

Last sea­son’s head coach, Eric Tin­kler, per­formed won­ders at the helm – and, while many may think the new man in charge, Benni McCarthy, has big shoes to fill, and a lot to live up to, Comi­tis dif­fers. In fact, the charis­matic club boss has put ab­so­lutely no pres­sure on McCarthy for the sea­son ahead.

“Ob­vi­ously, we set a bench­mark last sea­son by fin­ish­ing third, but the man­date given to Benni is to keep us in the top eight this sea­son,” said Comi­tis. “We will be pa­tient with the coach, who is in his first sea­son in charge. I can as­sure you that Benni won’t be judged by this sea­son, it’s far too early to do so. But based on what I have seen from the squad, and how they’ve gone about things, I still be­lieve we will be pleas­antly sur­prised. In fact, I would go so far as to say I would be dis­ap­pointed if we don’t fin­ish in the top five.”

Squad wise, Comi­tis has promised to add one or two more play­ers be­fore the trans­fer win­dow closes at the end of the month. He’s weigh­ing up a few for­eign op­tions, es­pe­cially African in­ter­na­tion­als who can add ex­pe­ri­ence and qual­ity to boost the Cape club’s cam­paign in the Caf Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup later this sea­son.

The other as­pect Comi­tis is keep­ing a close eye on is the train­ing fa­cil­ity. City have the use of the Green Point ground un­til the end of Septem­ber and the am­bi­tious club owner doesn’t want a re­peat of last sea­son when the team had to trek from ground to ground to pre­pare for matches.

“I think the City of Cape Town is fully aware of the time line,” he said. “There can be no ex­cuses this time. If the city is se­ri­ous about hav­ing a club like Cape Town City in the re­gion, then they have to make sure we have a more per­ma­nent place by then.” month and won five of their other pre-sea­son games, los­ing only to Barcelona.

Real, mean­while, failed to win any of their four friendlies in the US in 90 min­utes, los­ing 3-2 to Barca and get­ting thrashed 4-1 by Manch­ester City, their only win com­ing in a shoot-out vic­tory over an MLS All-Stars team.

“The sen­sa­tion over­all is not good, when you don’t win any of your four games,” Zi­dane said.

“We have to do a lot more, we’ve made a bad start with these re­sults and what we all want is to get home, rest and think about the Su­per Cup.” – Reuters

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