City have got off to a promising start, hence their place in the MTN8 final; Chiefs, on the other hand, just can’t seem to get going
Cape Town City are continuing to capture the imagination of the football public. In just their third season as a PSL club, they are already through to their third Cup final – the MTN8 finale on September 29. Now, the Citizens are gearing up for a crunch league fixture against Kaizer Chiefs at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (3pm kick-off).
The two teams head into the match with contrasting fortunes: City have got off to a promising start, hence their place in the MTN8 final; Chiefs, on the other hand, just can’t seem to get going.
So what have City done right this season?
A wiser, more experienced coach
A big plus for City this season is the fact that Benni McCarthy is now in his second year as a head coach. He is on record as saying that last season was a learning curve; he admits that he erred on many occasions. But he’s used it as a tool to grow his coaching experience – and, this season, he’s a lot more in tune with his thinking. More importantly, McCarthy now also has a better understanding of how to manage his players, and he has a definite direction in which he wants to steer the team.
Good goalkeeper, good team
McCarthy has always been vocal about City bringing on board a reliable goalkeeper. He believes that a solid No 1 creates confidence and permeates the entire squad with confidence.
This season, City found such a goalkeeper in Dutchman Peter Leeuwenburgh. Signed from Ajax Amsterdam, where he was playing in the Dutch club’s Reserve Team, Leeuwenburgh has been simply brilliant for the Capetonians; he is an inspirational presence, and he has pulled off some top-class saves to drive City’s promising start to the new season.
The one aspect that is always a constant with City is the fantastic team spirit of the squad. The collective is more important than the individual. While McCarthy’s experience and the addition of Leeuwenburgh are crucial, the secret to City’s success remains the unity and courage of the entire squad: and much of that spirit is to be found in the unselfish endeavour and supreme commitment of combative midfielder Thabo Nodada and skipper Thami Mkhize.
The duo lead by example in the manner in which they tackle challenges with gusto, and the rest of the team follow their example.