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City aim for fast start

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Piling on the pressure against Polokwane will help put Citizens at the top of the table

Kermit Erasmus of Cape Town City is a player that will give Polokwane City all sorts of headaches if he is given space in the 18-yard box. Picture: Samuel Shivambu BackpagePix

Kermit Erasmus could be the man to help ignite Cape Town City in their PSL clash against Polokwane City at Cape Town Stadium today (8pm kick-off).

The South African international has scored three goals in as many games and looks hungry for more.

But the 28-year-old striker, who turned professional in 2007, needs space and time to showcase his talents.

He can score with his left and right boot, and if he’s left unmarked in the 18-yard box, it’s tickets and tax for the opposition.

“Kermit is a brilliant marksman. He’s finding his best form and that spells trouble for opposing defenders,” said City’s assistant coach Vasili Manousakis.

In City’s last seven matches in the Premier Soccer League, only one team – Highlands Park – have beaten them. So, if one has to predict which team will win the Premiership title, City should come into the equation.

The Citizens are third on the log but will leapfrog Orlando Pirates (still having to play them) if they beat sixth-placed Polokwane.

A win for coach Benni McCarthy’s troops would seal a hat-trick of league wins for the second time this season, but for that to play out will require a stout defensive effort to get the job done against opponents who arrive in the Mother City in fine form.

While they had to battle to hold onto their top-flight status last season, this time around Polokwane are a side to be reckoned with under new coach Jozef Vukusic.

He’s saw his team hold Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs to draws during a five-game unbeaten run that has produced wins over Golden Arrows and Baroka FC.

But Cape Town City had his number in the first round that ended in a 2-0 home defeat.

What is a concern from a Cape point of view is the number of goals that have been conceded.

While McCarthy’s boys have scored more goals than any other team in the league (39), they’ve conceded 30, the joint third most.

No blame can be laid at the door of their goalkeeper Peter Leeuwenburgh, as the tall Dutchman has pulled off a myriad of stunning saves, some from point-blank range. He’s got to be in the running for the Goalkeeper of the Year award come the end of the season.

Captain Thami Mkhize, Taariq Fielies, Edmilson Dove and Ebrahim Seedat are likely to be the last line of defence.

Maybe a fast start against Polokwane can ease the pressure.

McCarthy sees this as a must-win game and wants his side to score first. “We must be on our game from the get-go, taking the fight to them and not allow them to settle down and suss out our intentions,” he said.

“My players are fresh after those three games we played in a week and are raring to make it a hat-trick of wins. They arrived at training this week after a few days off and smiled when they all received envelopes with cash in them as a reward for reaching incentives set by us.

“I can see the hunger and desire and the fact that you see more and more players staying behind after practice to work on areas of their game, shows how dedicated they are to the cause. I can only smile and try do my bit to make them better.”

City have been the best performing team in the league for the third quarter block of eight games in terms of points secured (18 points for six wins), earning the club R1.5 million.