City’s Mkhize ready to KO Stars

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City have put together a sensational run of six wins on the trot in recent weeks, and pugnacious right-back Mkhize has been highly influential.

This afternoon at Athlone Stadium, they take on Free State Stars in a Telkom Knockout semi-final (3pm kick-off), and the 28-year-old defender is prepared to put everything on the line to get to the final.

Mkhize, after doing the rounds at KwaZulu-Natal clubs Golden Arrows and Maritzburg United, and a subsequent failed move to Orlando Pirates, signed for City in September.

His arrival was initially only to act as defensive cover, in case of injury or suspension to any of the players. But since being handed an opportunity, Mkhize has been in such great form he has held on to the jersey, keeping the experienced Vincent Kobola anchored to the bench.

Tinkler has always been vocal about the composition of the City squad. When he arrived to take over as coach of the new Mother City PSL club, he was adamant that he wanted to build a unit in which each player would be able to contribute.

He didn’t want to sign players who would just make up the numbers; he wanted them to be ready for top-flight action, and ready to step up when needed.

Tinkler has got his wish, in that there have been contributions from everybody who’s had an opportunity on the field.

Because of this, he has been able to easily rotate the squad without losing quality. It was on one such rotational selection that Mkhize got his chance, grabbed it with both feet, and he’s looked the real deal since.

Originally from Cato Ridge - a town about 30km south-east of Pietermaritzburg - and from the Kwaximba community, Mkhize started playing football for a team called Brains United in his home town.

In 2007, he joined First Division side Nathi Lions, where he was spotted by Arrows, who offered him his first professional contract.

But it was then during a successful stint at Maritzburg that Mkhize caught the eye of Soweto giants Pirates. It looked like he had landed the transfer of his career, only for things to turn sour when Muhsin Ertugral took over. Mkhize wasn’t in the Turk’s plans and was shipped out and, as they say, Pirates’ loss was City’s gain.

Mkhize explained how the move to Cape Town came about: “I knew coach Craig Rosslee (City’s director of coaching), because he wanted to work with me while he was at AmaZulu. But at the time I was still under contract with Maritzburg.

“When I was clubless after leaving Pirates, coach Rosslee and Mr John (Comitis, City owner) gave me a chance to come and train with the team, to see how I would fit in. Luckily, I proved to them that I can play and they showed faith in me.”

A workaholic who gives the team more than 100 percent, Mkhize’s work ethic epitomises the spirit of the City squad.

Their success so far this season has been founded on teamwork and a desire to never give up and always strive to give off their best.

As for Saturday’s crunch semi-final against Ea Lla Koto, the City right-back is aware of the difficulty of the challenge they face, but he’s confident - especially considering what’s at stake - that they can get the result they want.

“Every player wants to be in a cup final,” he said. “We want to make history for the club and make sure we progress through to the finals.”

Saturday Star

Original source: City’s Mkhize ready to KO Stars

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