Manyama was stretchered off injured in the 66th minute – but, by then, he’d done enough to lead his team to final.
Only established as a club in June, when John Comitis bought the PSL franchise of Mpumalanga Black Aces, the new Mother City team has certainly been on a fairy tale run ever since. Currently second on the PSL standings, they were also in the semi-finals of the MTN8 earlier this year and, now, the Capetonians are in a first-ever Cup final. In just five months, they’ve certainly captured the imagination of the football public.
In Saturday’s semi-final against Stars, they should have been out of sight in the first half, but for an outstanding performance from the Free State side’s goalkeeper, Thela Ngobeni. In the opening 30 minutes alone, when the Capetonians produced chances almost at will, slashing open the opposition defence with pace and guile, it was Ngobeni who kept his team in the game with a series of breathtaking stops.
The big question ahead of Saturday’s crunch Cup tie was how City coach Eric Tinkler would respond, with regard to selection, after losing both central defenders – Tshepo Gumede and Robyn Johannes – to suspension. The former Bafana Bafana man, now doing some really great work as a coach in the Mother City, opted to give Ghanaian defender Joseph Adjei a PSL debut, while moving the in-form Thamsanqa Mkhize from right-back to centre-back. And, with Mkhize shifting to the middle, the experienced Vincent Kobola slotted into the right side of the defence.
But there was no need to be too concerned about defence. City’s attacking play has been sensational this season – and it was always going to be a huge task for the Free Staters to deal with Manyama and Aubrey Ngoma. The duo combined in the eighth minute, with a cleverly worked free-kick, a real training ground move, but Ngoma’s snapshot was brilliantly saved by Ngobeni. A minute later, though, City took the lead, when, again, the Free State team couldn’t handle the pace of Ngoma, the winger was brought down after a reckless foul by Katlego Mashego, and the penalty was awarded. Manyama (who else?) stepped up to drill an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
Manyama’s movement and awareness of space continued to give Stars a major headache, with the City captain creating openings for Ngoma and Masina, but Ngobeni was equal to the task. In the 32nd minute, though, after another dash and release from Manyama found Roland Putsche in space, the Austrian made no mistake to steer the ball into the net.
Despite being under the cosh at that stage, Stars managed to pull one back from a free-kick, with Thokozani Sekotlong curling a sweet shot into the top corner.
Truth be told, Stars were fortunate to go into the break at just 2-1 down. The half-time score could have been 12-1 to City, such was their dominance and scoring opportunities.
There was always the possibility, as often happens in this strange game of football, that City could pay the price for their first half profligacy. But it wasn’t to be – and, even though Stars were a bit tighter in the second period, they couldn’t prevent the Capetonians from increasing their advantage in the 63rd minute. Again Manyama was the provider, this time with a corner-kick, and Mpho Matsi loomed large to fire in at the far post.
City were dealt a big blow three minutes later when they lost Manyama to injury, to be replaced by Judas Moseamedi. But this City team is not just a one-man team – and despite the loss of the talismanic Manyama, they went 4-1 up with 10 minutes to go, with Ngoma getting a well-deserved goal.
Stars’ miserable afternoon was compounded when they had substitute Angelo Kerspuy red-carded minutes before the close for elbowing Putsche.
Original source: Cape Town City’s dream debut season continues