An own goal provided Benni McCarthy with a winning start to his coaching career as Cape Town City edged Polokwane City 1-0 in their MTN8 quarter-final at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Sibusiso Mbonani added the latest chapter to McCarthy’s glittering legacy with a header into the back of his own net to allow the Capetonians a place in the semifinals for a second successive season.
Cape Town City were rookies 12 months ago but looked much more polished, even if a little fatigued this early stage of their second season, and were full value for their victory.
McCarthy looked mightily relieved after the success.
“We are a work in progress but the signs are there that we can play. I’m proud and privilege to be a part of this. They boys played for me too, making me really happy. But we have to work to do before our next game,” said the new coach.
McCarthy’s tactical approach involved high pressing and more of a midfield build-up but it took a while for his side to settle into a rhythm as the quick tempo of the early exchanges led to a regular turn over of possession.
But Cape Town City were the more adventurous from the off and should have been in the lead when they put the ball into the net after 26 minutes only to have Lehlohonolo Majoro ruled offside. Television replays showed it a poor decision from linesman Xolani Duma.
Thabo Nodada had picked up a loose ball in the middle, playing it wide to debutant Lyle Lakay on the left , who in turn found Majoro for an simple tuck away only to be disallowed.
Polokwane City might well have then taken advantage of a lucky let off to take the lead when Rodney Ramagalela broke clear but as he cut inside to shoot had his path blocked.
The goal then arrived in the 38th minute as Thamsanqa Mhkize played in a cross from the right that Lakay headed in the direction of Majoro. But Mbonani was in front of the City striker and got their first, attempting a clearing header which he steered into his own net.
Three minutes later the score could have been doubled as Roland Putsche’s superb through ball set Lakay away but Polokwane City ’keeper George Chigova came out quickly off his line and got a much-need touch as Lakay tried to chip him, allowing the defenders to clear the danger.
New signing Teko Modise, 34, was set to debut for City and described in the build-up by McCarthy as key to his plans but suffered a groin strain in the warm-up and was replaced in the starting line-up by the diminutive Nodada, who emerged as one of City’s key players.
Phuleng Tlolane had three chances for the visitors after the break but City then took over control for the final half-hour with Majoro, Lebogang Manyama and substitute Ayanda Patosi all coming close.
Patosi is carrying a few extra kilograms but showed enough in his cameo appearance to suggest he is going to be an exciting addition to the PSL scene this season.