Cape Town City have certainly earned the respect of many of their counterparts since their inception, but it seems that they have once again fallen short of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) crown following three losses on the trot against Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and defending champions Bidvest Wits.
The Citizens, for the most part of the season, were challenging for South African football’s biggest crown, but with only eight games remaining, they have lost their way as they now find themselves nine points adrift of leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, and while mathematically they still have a chance, it remains unlikely that Benni McCarthy’s men will lift the league title on May 12.
But while City have looked good this season and built a formidable squad in January. Their youthfulness has clearly showed as they have experienced winless streaks on numerous occasions this season. This inconsistency has predominantly been down to a lack of goalscoring prowess.
After all, City have only found the back of the net 21 times in 22 league encounters, and despite signing the likes of Masoud Juma and Matthew Rusike, City’s woes in front of goal seem to be continuing.
Another factor that could have potentially contributed to City’s struggles could have been the departure of several senior players. The absence of Lebogang Manyama’s influence in particular, has probably been the hardest felt as he was also City’s goalscoring machine, but most importantly, he was a game changer. At many times during the campaign, City have not had that type of player.
Although players such as Ayanda Patosi and Bradley Ralani have shown slight glimpses of that, again consistency has been their Achilles heel, but arguably the killer blow to City’s league aspirations have been the sale of Aubrey Ngoma.
While the now Sundowns star missed a large portion of the season through injury, his creativity was notable during his final few appearances in Cape Town, and perhaps had he stayed on, City could have still been in the title race.
But as the saying goes, City cannot cry over spilt milk, and needed the players to step up to the plate, something which McCarthy to his credit had been trying to achieve.
City also paid the price for their inability to beat their closest rivals. How different things could have been had City beaten the likes of Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates?
City have dropped a combined total of nine points against those three clubs alone, which further proves just how they let their league aspirations slip, especially considering that they had actually beaten Sundowns and are yet to play Pirates in the second round.
But while City will be disappointed with their current form where they are experiencing another dry spell, this time four games without a win, this will almost certainly come as learning curve for the young players and McCarthy. City perhaps could have boxed smarter in their race for the title.
On an initial glance of the statistics, it is apparent that while they have won nine games all season, they have also lost nine and they will surely feel that they should have at least walked away from many of those games with at least a point.
Lastly, City will know that perhaps they have missed out on a golden opportunity to assert their authority on South African football. This season’s league title race has shown the gulf in class has been narrowed and it is important to note that City potentially have a squad that could beat anyone on their day.
But these are all hard lessons, that the club will need to take and build on for next season, but for now all they can do is give it their all in the remaining games and at best attempt to replicate their third place finish of last season which is by no means a far stretch.