|TRAIL BLAZER: Eric Tinkler|
RESURRECTION can be a tricky business. The last documented example was some bloke called Lazarus over 2000 years ago. And you wouldn’t expect him to get up and out-run all the healthy disciples gathered for his miraculous comeback would you?
But that’s exactly what Cape Town City have done. With some gusto. After opening their second coming with a 2-0 win over Polokwane City on August 23, born-again City beat a side called Kaizer Chiefs three days later.
Last month they beat African champions Mamelodi Sundowns amid a current run of SEVEN consecutive wins that has seen them top the PSL twice and reach the Telkom KO final. Saturday’s thumping 4-1 thrashing of Free State Stars in the TKO semi-final was no shock, it was simply further evidence of an astonishing rebirth.
John Comitis, the former Ajax Cape Town chairman who just last week fell off the PSL executive gravy train, appears to have successfully breathed life back in to the long dead football club known as Cape Town City.
But then along comes Comitis and, as I revealed two weeks before the face, the official unveiling decades after the faux cremation: Cape Town City FC were given a second life for a reported fee of R50m.
The brief five months since that announcement on June 29 have been eventful. Remember, Comitis did a deal with the Morfou brothers at Mpumalanga Black Aces to move their franchise 1,538km south.
Fourteen players made the journey. The PSL top scorer Collins Mbesuma was left behind. So was the much-vaunted junior link with Manchester City. And the fans from eMalahleni to Mbombela? Ignored.
It was a deal which broke FIFA rules, a deal which nearly led to Free State Stars being replaced in the PSL by twice-relegated Moroka Swallows. A deal which should NEVER have happened.
But Comitis is nothing if not determined to win a personal war against his old club Ajax Cape Town. He let Muhsin Ertugral, the Turkish coach who lifted Aces to a record fourth place last season, go to Orlando Pirates. In return, he picked up the man Irvin Khoza didn’t want to fire, Eric Tinkler as a sweetener.
With former Pirates assistant Craig Rosslee working behind the scenes, Tinkler added a few foreigners, adopted the old blue-and-gold City colours and somehow, after being “10 players short” a few weeks before the season started, he put out a side good enough to top the PSL and reach the TKO final before the club had got halfway to their first birthday.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how Tinkler has managed this. Lebogang Manyama was made captain after seven months of injury, Shu-Aib Walters is a vastly under-rated goalkeeper, Aubrey Ngoma, the former Orlando Pirates dynamo, picks up Man of the Match awards like confetti. Lehlohonolo Majoro, unwanted inland, made his way down the N1 to contribute a few goals.
Not a bad collection of journeymen. But as Tinkler said on Saturday, that's not the secret: “These players work for each other. That’s all a coach can ask for. I’m happy for them. That’s how it works here. This is an opportunity to make history.”
The man vilified for finishing seventh in the PSL and reaching the African Confederations Cup knows his stuff. He'll trouble Stuart Baxter in the TKO final against SuperSport United. I defended him all last season. He was a nugget on the field, and he’s proving just as tough on the bench in the Mother City.