CAPE TOWN – Cape Town City concluded a week from hell perched on cloud nine, because of people who wrote them off, expecting the Citizens to be slaughtered by Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits were left red-faced.
Instead, the plucky Capetonians did the slaughtering – beating Sundowns 2-1 on Tuesday at Athlone, days after coming back from 2-0 down to beat Bidvest Wits 3-2. Their performance in the past two games made up for the defeat they suffered at the hands of Sundowns in Pretoria last week.
“We had No. 1 and No. 2 in a space of seven days. We targeted seven points in the three games, and we got six,” a proud City coach, Benni McCarthy said.
By the time City were through with the past two winners of the PSL, Wits found themselves in fourth place and Sundowns were relegated to No. 2 after a short stay at the summit. City might have only moved one position up, from fourth to third, but they slashed the gap between them and the leaders – now one point stands between the Citizens and first-placed Orlando Pirates.
“They say a man is tested on his character when you play the best,” McCarthy said. “In order for you to win titles and to be considered amongst the greatest, you’ve got to take the best out. We did that.
“We were unfortunate against Sundowns away. We were okay in the second half, but in the first half we were a bit rusty. We didn’t have the big match temperament. We were disappointed. I said to the boys, everybody is writing us off. They’re saying that we’ve got no chance, this is going to be nine points dropped. So you guys, with the belief we have in our capabilities, let’s go and show them who we are.”
McCarthy struggles with balancing his bravado-fuelled talk, and adopting the mind games coaches like to play by downplaying their chances of challenging for top honours. Despite the statement of intent his team made with their wins over Wits and Sundowns, McCarthy still argues the championship might be a step too far for his team this season.
“For us it’s one game at a time,” McCarthy said. “Now we’re focused on Polokwane City. We pace ourselves and we know what we’re capable of doing. We don’t want to put ourselves under unnecessary pressure by buying into everything that’s going on, people saying, ‘Hey this team is a title contender’.”
McCarthy continued, “It doesn’t matter who we are up against, we back ourselves against anyone. We want to stay true to ourselves by playing our best football. We don’t want to change our way, if we do that then I might as well as change them to runners.”
“We play football, whether we’re up against Sundowns, Chiefs or Pirates. As long as we’re satisfied with the work we put out on the pitch, that’s all that we want to do.”