CAPE TOWN – Citizens coach Benni McCarthy says it’s a “must-win game” when they meet Polokwane City in an Absa Premiership encounter at the Cape Town Stadium tomorrow (8pm kick-off).
The Citizens, who are bidding for a hat-trick of victories, have accumulated 39 points and occupy third position in the standings headed by defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns on 43 point, while fast-improving Rise and Shine, who have gone five league games unbeaten, are sixth on 36 points.
“It’s must-win game for us,” said McCarthy.
“The boys have had a fortnight off after playing three games in six days and appeared at practice looking fresh and relishing the next challenge ahead.
“The come-from-behind wins over Wits and Sundowns were courageous efforts and definitely lifted morale.
“But now this is a tough new challenge presented by title-contending rivals coming to us in good form, and a win for them draws them level with us on the table.
“The fact that they held Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs to draws is form not to take lightly.”
McCarthy was happy to see his captain and right-back Thami Mkhize make it into the 24-man Bafana Bafana squad to take on Libya in the final round of Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in Tunisia on March 24.
“I’m glad he has been given the opportunity by head coach Stuart Baxter and I’m sure he’ll do his best for the country. He will take his performances for us into the national team and good luck to him and Bafana.”
Mkhize took it all in his stride.
“It’s always and honour to be called up to the national team, so I’m grateful for that. I have to thank my club and teammates for that,” he said.
As for the threat posed by visiting Polokwane, Mkhize feels his team are all the better for the tough week they had a fortnight ago.
“Facing Sundowns twice and Wits was a big test for us, one I feel we passed,” the City skipper said.
“To be the best you have to play the best, and they are two of the best out there. Now we take on rivals who are in hot form.
“We just have to keep grinding away, make sure we represent ourselves well on the pitch and hope to give the fans another big performance.”
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City strikers Siphelele Mthembu (seven league goals) and Kermit Erasmus (three league goals) formed a starting partnership for the first time in the win over Sundowns and it was the latter who scored for the third game in a row.
Will McCarthy pair them again?
Mike de Bruyn