JOHANNESBURG – In awake of his team’s struggles to produce the impressive outings of old, Cape Town City coach Jan Olde Riekerink is hoping his charges will have enough mettle to change their fortunes in the remaining three matches this month.
There has been a cloud that has hung over City this season, having fallen from the dizzying heights of being title contenders – after finishing fourth last season – to a team that has been languishing in the bottom half of the PSL standings.
When the results were not forthcoming early in the season, coach Benni McCarthy, who had delivered the MTN8 crown last term, was sent packing by chairman John Comitis and the City board.
From there on, the club went as far as the Netherlands to find McCarthy’s successor, Jan Olde Riekerink. But instead, the 56-year-old coach has done little to remedy the situation as his team has only managed one win, three draws and four losses in his eight-match reign.
But the Dutch-born mentor appears not to be worried by the recent misfortunes, especially after having cut a nonchalant figure at the FNB Stadium auditorium after losing 3-0 to log leaders Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday.
According to Olde Riekerink, all is not lost for City, who are in 13th spot in the league and a point clear of the automatic relegation spot, as they are hellbent on getting positive results in the next three matches.
City will welcome Wits and Black Leopards to Cape Town Stadium on Saturday and next Friday respectively, before facing Maritzburg United away on 31 January.
“This (Chiefs game) was our first loss this year, after already getting one draw and a win. This was a difficult game but against AmaZulu, we deserved to win but we didn’t,” Olde Riekerink said.
“We now have two home games and an away trip at the end of the month, we’ll see where we are. But football for me starts with the way we play, and at the end (of the day) you have to score goals. But I have to trust my team that they’ll do it.”
Before City can rush to score goals, they have got to ensure their defence is sound – especially after conceding five goals in their last two matches.
Against Chiefs, they committed schoolboy errors – and were duly punished by headers from Leonardo Castro, Samir Nurkovic and Eric Mathoho.
Responding to a question as to why his players failed to deal with Chiefs’ aerial prowess against the run of play or set-pieces, Jan Olde Riekerink says they lacked the quality defensively.
“There are two ways you can defend: defend the cross from being delivered or defend the player in front of the goal. Or sometimes, there are just good players, who can just finish in front of the goals, and our opponents had those players,” he said.
“In the first goal (that was scored by Castro), I think we were organised better, but the ball just went in-between. I am just disappointed that we didn’t score on our own opportunities. And I think the second goal brought more or less for us in the game.”
City next face Wits at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (6pm kickoff).
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