Cape Town City catch the bus to Swaziland for Confed Cup
Cape Town City have caught a relatively short bus journey on what they hope will be the start of a long trip in the Caf Confederation Cup that gets underway this weekend.
City are in Mbabane‚ Swaziland to face Young Buffaloes on Saturday‚ the first ever African club competition game in the team’s history.
Following their hardfought 1-0 success over Bidvest Wits in the Nedbank Cup in Johannesburg on Wednesday night‚ City‚ due to flight unavailability issues‚ took a six-hour bus ride to Swaziland with the majority of that squad and some reinforcements.
Matthew Rusike‚ who scored the second-minute winner with his first touch of the ball in a City shirt on Wednesday night‚ will not be part of the match-day squad as he was signed too late to be registered for the early knockout stages of the Confed Cup.
There are also likely to be returns for the centreback duo of skipper Robyn Johannes and Taariq Fielies‚ who were suspended for Wednesday night.
The former must still sit out another game in the domestic league‚ but can play in African club competition.
Buffaloes players believe they can spring a shock‚ despite coming off a surprise home loss to lowly Moneni Pirates in their previous Swazi league fixture.
“We are going for the positive result and we believe that winning is possible. They can be a big team but not when it comes to the field of play. We are ready and let them come‚” midfielder Sandile Gamedze said.
Buffaloes were runners-up in the Swazi league last season‚ though they finished an astonishing 23 points behind winners Mbabane Swallows.
They won the Swaziland Cup‚ beating Matsapha United 2-0 in the decider.
The side is coached by Dominic Kunene‚ while their most well-known player is skipper and Swaziland international midfielder Mphile “Nyandoro” Tsabedze.
Wits are also in action in their Champions League opener on Saturday (kickoff: 6pm) at home to Mauritian side Pamplemousse‚ which translated from French curiously means ‘grapefruit’‚ on Saturday at Bidvest Stadium.
Coach Gavin Hunt was stung by the side’s exit from the competition last season at the hands of Egyptian side Al Ahly in the penultimate round before the group stages.
Success continentally has seemingly become a matter of pride for Hunt having watched other South African coaches enjoy it.
Wits’ early exit from the Nedbank Cup alleviates their fixture burden and allows more focus to be given to the Champions League.
“Last year we were unlucky. We drew Al Ahly and lost 1-0 in two games (in the Champions League) and then we lost to (Egyptians) Smouha in the Confederation Cup. We lost 1-0 with a penalty over two games‚” Hunt said.
“We gave it a full go last year and we will give it a full go this year. We have two rounds to get into a group‚ so we’ll see.
“The Champions League helped us win the league last year because everyone had to play.”
The return leg of both Wits’ and City’s ties will be played midweek on February 20 or 21.
Mamelodi Sundowns (Champions League) and SuperSport United (Confederation Cup) have received byes into the second round.