Benni McCarthy got his first stint as a head coach off to a winning start as Cape Town City defeated Polokwane City 1-0 in a MTN 8 quarterfinal tie at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The result sees City into the hat for the draw for the semifinals of the competition.
City were deserved winners – and, in truth, the scoreline flattered the visitors somewhat, especially as the Cape side was supremely dominant in the second half.
If Lehlolonolo Majoro had brought his scoring boots along, the margin of victory would have been far greater.
But that certainly won’t concern McCarthy too much – the goal was to get off to a positive, winning start, and that was exactly what the Capetonians got.
City were dealt a blow when new signing Teko Modise was injured during the warm-up, but it didn’t have that much of an effect.
Modise was replaced by Thabo Nodada and the pint-sized player proved to be an energetic presence in the City midfield.
— Cape Town City FC (@CapeTownCityFC) August 12, 2017
In a free-flowing, open game of football, both teams gave as good as they got.
There was skill and enterprise on offer, with some really smart football being played at times. The only sign that it was still early season was the rustiness of the players in the final third. While openings were created, both teams lacked the composure required in attack.
For City, last season’s Footballer of the Season, Lebogang Manyama, was always troublesome for the opposition, while there was another solid, industrious showing from Austrian Roland Putsche.
Manyama fashioned an opportunity for Majoro early in the first half, but the striker shot straight at Polokwane goalkeeper George Chigova.
While City had the lion’s share of possession, they were just not clinical enough up front. As a result, when the Cape side took the lead in the 38th minute, it came via an own goal from Sibusiso Mbonani, with the defender unfortunately lobbing a header over Chigova.
Lyle Lakay, making his debut for City, was put through by Putsche four minutes before halftime, but he, too, failed to make the most of the chance.
Polokwane, though, weren’t to be left behind as they, too, had their moments, especially in the first half, and some really promising moments too.
Puleng Tlolane could have scored midway through the first half, but was foiled by a good block from goalkeeper Shu-aib Walters.
Rodney Ramagalela also had an inviting chance, but was denied by a great tackle from Robyn Johannes.
Tlolane had another glorious opportunity early in the second half, but, again, Walters was at hand to make the save.
In the 66th minute, McCarthy substituted Sibusiso Masina and brought on Ayanda Patosi. The kid from Khayelitsha recently returned from a six-year spell at Lokeren in Belgium, in an attempt to revive his career at City. And, just to prove his hunger, he nearly scored with his very first touch, drilling a shot narrowly over the bar.
Patosi had another great opportunity soon after, with the chance created by another good run from Manyama, but this time the powerful shot was saved by Chigova.
With City in the ascendancy in the second half, and Manyama running the show in attack, more goals should have been on the cards, but Majoro again squandered a simple opportunity 10 minutes before the close.
City were able to run down the clock and register the victory. It’s still early days – but, based on the solid, professional performance delivered, it does look as if the Cape side will again have to be taken very seriously this season.