CAPE TOWN – Cape Town City coach Jan Olde Riekerink has been around the football block and back again.
The experienced Dutch mentor knows the business intimately having previously coached at Ajax Amsterdam and Turkish giants Galatasaray. He has worked with some of the best players in the world and then seen them move on to greener pastures.
It’s for this reason that the 57-year-old believes City will still have enough firepower upfront despite the loss of last season’s leading marksman Kermit Erasmus to treble champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
“When players perform like Kermit, then you can expect that there will be other clubs (interested). The quality of the player, the ambition of the player wants to go to a club that can play for the championship like Sundowns did last year,” Riekerink said ahead of his team’s MTN8 quarter final against Orlando Pirates on Saturday.
“That’s a part of our job. Players will come and players will leave. But I have to believe that if Kermit leaves, which is a big loss for us, other players will stand up and fill in that gap. I believe with the group we have we can achieve that.”
City have certainly not rested on their laurels in an attempt to off-set Erasmus’ departure. The Citizens have brought Aubrey Ngoma home on a season-long loan after a miserable three seasons at Sundowns, while also permanently securing the services of forwards Fagrie Lakay and Tashreeq Morris.
A rivalry that never disappoints….😉
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Lakay, who remains the youngest player to represent Bafana Bafana at 17 years, 11 months, 25 days, was reportedly courted by both Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, but instead opted to pen a four-year deal while the lanky Morris signed a two-year extension.
Riekerink believes both forwards have unique qualities which will allow City to play in contrasting styles depending on the opposition. He is particularly excited with Lakay’s development, with the 23-year-old reminding him of a young Memphis Depay during his time at Ajax Amsterdam.
“When I arrived (at City) Fagrie played as a winger. I told him there was a player in Holland like Memphis Depay, he used to play as a winger in Holland but in France he plays as a striker. It’s the same with Fagrie. You can compare the way they play because Fagrie is always moving and looking for the ball behind the defence.
“It means the players can play the ball behind the defence with Fagrie. Sometimes he drops and allows players to fill the gaps that he left. If we play with a No 10, then he can move into the striker position. He also has a fantastic shot.
“Tashreeq will be more like a target man. He has good technical ability, he holds the ball up and then it will be very important that there are players around Tashreeq that supports him to receive the ball. Tashreeq will also be very good with the crosses in from the side.”
Although only having joined City midway through last season, Riekerink is aware of the significance of the MTN8 tournament to the boys in blue and yellow. Equally, he knows Pirates will be seeking revenge after their loss to City in the bio-bubble last season.
“We are ready. We are prepared. We have a little bit of small history playing in this cup. In 2018 we won it, and the year before we reached the final,” he said.
“Pirates are now a different team. They have also had some transfers. But we have the confidence, but more from who we are and let’s hope we can express it in the next game.”