'If we lose Teko Modise‚ I need to go there to Jerusalem to pray for serious help‚' says Benni McCarthy

Kaizer Chiefs' star forward Khama Billiat (L) pulls away from Teko Modise of Cape Town City during the Absa Premiership at Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, September 15 2018.
Kaizer Chiefs' star forward Khama Billiat (L) pulls away from Teko Modise of Cape Town City during the Absa Premiership at Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, September 15 2018.
Image: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Benni McCarthy says new signing Travis Graham has the ability to emulate Teko Modise and become a major force in the Premier Soccer League.

City snapped up free-agent Graham last week after injuries to Thabo Nodada and Roland Putsche put them both out for the remainder of the season.

The club has also since added Dutch junior international Chris David‚ but are eager to bring Graham up to speed with the 25-year-old having not kicked a ball in anger for almost two years after a dispute with former club Ajax Cape Town.

"I wanted him when he was at Ajax [Cape Town] last season already‚” McCarthy admits.

"Unfortunately‚ his ambitions were to go to Europe. He went on trial there‚ but he had been out the game too long and the trials weren't too successful.

"I saw a great opportunity to sign him now because I think he was one of the most talented young players in the country in midfield.

"We look at Teko [Modise] and I think in this kid Travis Graham‚ we have as close as you will get to that quality.

"He’s very European-like‚ but built in South Africa. He can match the physicality‚ is very comfortable on the ball‚ doesn't give it away a lot‚ and he is your all-round midfield player that you want.”

McCarthy believes the move can work for both club and player and put Graham back in the shop window for an overseas move.

"He was looking for a chance and I said‚ 'that is a good partnership'. We can get him there. The way we play he fits in perfectly.

"Next week you will see him in and around with us‚ he is not up to speed‚ but the only way to get him there is game-time.”

McCarthy says there is no worries with the physical fitness of Graham‚ but getting him match fit is a different story.

"The boy is ripped! He is slim and fitter than players that have been working and training here every day. He doesn't have an ounce of body fat. Now it is just getting him match-fit.

"It is not the same being gym-fit as match-fit.”

Graham will be used as an understudy for Modise‚ who is now 36 and needs to be managed through the season‚ according to McCarthy.

"Teko‚ you have to manage him because at the moment he is one of the best players we have and if we lose him‚ on top of Nodada and Putsche‚ then I need to go there to Jerusalem to pray for serious help!

“I don't see how we would survive without Teko for where we want to be as a team."

City face a massive 10 days as they play Absa Premiership championship rivals Mamelodi Sundowns both home and away in the league‚ and also visit table-topping BidVest Wits on Saturday.

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