Chris David announced his arrival in the Cape in style, scoring a stunning free kick on debut to help Cape Town City avenge their 3-2 loss to Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld last week with a 2-1 win at the Athlone Stadium on Tuesday.
The Citizens once again needed a fiery halftime team talk from Benni McCarthy for them to wake up from their slumber and show what they’re worth.
The pastor who resurrected a man from the “dead” has nothing on the former Bafana Bafana forward, who just knows the words to bring his team back to life after looking dead and buried in the first half.
He showed that power against Wits last week, and did it again on Tuesday night to stun the reigning league champions, who went to the Mother City at the summit of the Premiership standings.
Sundowns will return to Chloorkop now in second place, a point behind Orlando Pirates, who could have had a healthier lead had they beaten Bloemfontein Celtic on Tuesday night instead of drawing 1-1.
It’s game on in the league race. McCarthy wasn’t the only big winner on the night.
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter would have watched the game with a smile on his face, seeing two in-form South African forwards find the back of the net ahead of his squad announcement next week.
Lebohang Maboe scored his seventh goal of the season to continue his rich vein of form, while Kermit Erasmus made it three goals in three matches.
The pair could sneak into Baxter’s squad for the crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Libya later this month.
Wits coach Gavin Hunt would also have been pleased by the result, as City held Sundowns, who were looking to run away with the title.
Just like they did seven days ago in the corresponding fixture, Sundowns took an early lead through a well-worked team goal.
Hlompho Kekana stole the ball in the heart of midfield, and powered his way forward before finding Emiliano Tade.
The Argentine produced a delicate touch into the path of Maboe, who beat Edmilson Dove and Taariq Fielies for pace, and then fired in a strike that left Peter Leeuwenburgh flat-footed.
Once they took the lead, Sundowns slowed down the game to put their opponents into a false sense of confidence before breaking with breathtaking speed.
City played like they have been doing under coach McCarthy by taking the match to Sundowns and showing little respect for the eight-time league champions.
The only “respect” that City gave Sundowns was to start with the hard-working Zukile Kewuti and the bulldozer that is Siphelele Ntshangase upfront to complement Erasmus’ clever runs and positioning.
There was more emphasis put on the defensive structure than the attack.
The trio didn’t start in the 3-2 loss at Loftus Versfeld, and gave the club power and mobility.
McCarthy’s halftime team talk once again fired up his team, waking them up from their slumber. Erasmus’ thunderous strike brought the Citizens back into the game.
They played with their usual arrogance after that, dropping the conservative approach they displayed in the first half.
David came in late to help City record a famous win.
FT: Wits 2-3 City 🔥🔥🔥
— Cape Town City FC (@CapeTownCityFC) March 2, 2019
But this stance by City – to only find themselves in the second half – is dangerous.
They won’t always be given this opportunity, as they give teams a head start, which is good enough to put some serious distance between them and the Capetonians.
Sundowns didn’t take their chances, which allowed City room to come back.
In Pretoria, the Brazilians were better in front of goal, which is how they found themselves with maximum points, even though City finished the stronger of the two.
McCarthy needs to nip this in the bud if the Citizens are to transform from a plucky outfit to genuine title contenders.