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City coach still hopeful

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Olde Riekerink says that he has the trust of his team that he can help them return to winning ways.

Johannes Olde Riekerink, head coach of Cape Town City. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky | BackpagePix

In awake of his team’s struggles to produce the impressive outings of old, Cape Town City coach Jan Olde Riekerink is hoping his charges will have enough mettle to change their fortunes in the remaining three matches this month.

There’s been a sombre cloud that has hung over the Citizens this season, having fallen from the dizzying heights of being title contenders – after finishing fourth last term – to a team that’s been languishing in the bottom half of the table.

Such that when the results were not forthcoming early in the season, coach Benni McCarthy, who had delivered the MTN8 crown last term, was sent packing by chairman John Comitis and the board.

From there on, the club went as far as Holland to find McCarthy’s successor, Olde Riekerink. But instead of improving things as they’d hoped, the 56-year-old coach has done little to remedy the situation as his team has only managed one win, three draws and four losses in his eight-match reign.

But the Dutch-born mentor appears not to be worried by the recent misfortunes, especially after having cut a nonchalant figure at the FNB Stadium auditorium after losing by 3-0 to log leaders Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday afternoon.

According to Olde Riekerink, not all is lost for City, who are agonisingly 13th on the table and just a point clear of the automatic relegation spot. He says they are hellbent on getting positive results in the next three matches.

The Citizens will welcome Bidvest Wits and Black Leopards to the Cape Town Stadium on January 18 and 24, before taking to the road to Maritzburg United on January 31.

“This was our first loss this year, after already getting one draw and a win. This was a difficult game but against AmaZulu, we deserved to win but we didn’t,” he said.

“We now have two home games and an away trip at the end of the month, we’ll see where we are. But football for me starts at the way we play, and at the end you have to score goals. But I have the trust of my team that they’ll do it.”

Before the Citizens can rush to polishing their scoring hurdles up front, they’ve got to ensure their defence is sound – especially after clumsily allowing five goals to breach past them in the last two matches.

Against Chiefs, they conceded on schoolboy errors – and were duly punished by headers from Leonardo Castro, Samir Nurkovic and Eric Mathoho.

Responding to the question as to why his players failed to deal with Chiefs’ aerial prowess against the run of play or set-pieces, Olde Riekerink says they lacked the quality defensively.

“There are two ways you can defend: defend the cross from being delivered or defend the player in front of the goal. Or sometimes, there are just good players, who can just finish in front of the goals, and our opponents had those players,” he said.

“In the first goal (that was scored by Castro), I think we were organised better but the ball just went in-between. I am just disappointed that we didn’t score on our own opportunities. And I think the second goal brought more or less for us in the game.”

For now, however, City have to prepare for their next assignment, when they welcome Wits at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (6pm kick-off).