Cape Town City winger Lyle Lakay has no lack of motivation for winning the MTN8 final — victory will turn the 26-year-old into an instant hometown hero in Silvertown‚ Athlone.
A triumph in the R8m event would act as a belated homecoming celebration for the speedy dribbler, who returned to Cape Town to join City in the off-season after spending six years with Bloemfontein Celtic.
City face SuperSport United in the final showdown at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday and are aiming for their second championship in their second year of existence after winning the Telkom Knockout last season.
Lakay could make an immediate impact by bringing home the top-eight title after only two months at his new club.
"Playing at home for my family and community is a different feeling to being at another club. Obviously I’d love to put a smile on our fans’ faces‚" he said.
"I am enjoying my time in the team and it is evident from the way we started. I think everyone is having fun."
City made a blistering start to their 2017-18 season under coach Benni McCarthy‚ with a five-match winning streak in all competitions.
Assessing his former employers SuperSport‚ where the winger played from 2009 to 2012‚ Lakay believes the Capetonians have more youthful exuberance than United.
"The thing with SuperSport is they are well organised.
"Their team is almost set. They have Jeremy Brockie up-front‚ they have Thuso Phala who is key and a good mid-fielder. It’s going to be interesting because we will go into this final motivated and confident."
Lakay backed coach McCarthy to transmit his passion to his players.
"It’s a good feeling to play for a coach who is hungry and also a proven winner willing to fight for his players. It works both ways. We also have to show that very same fight and vigour.
"He is only doing it to push you to become a better footballer. Each coach has their methods to get the best out of you," he said.
Both Cape Town City and SuperSport United plan to arrive in Durban the day before the final and will each have a practice at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on the eve of the game.
City‚ who won the toss to be considered the home team and get to pick the change room‚ colours and practice times‚ will train from 6.30pm with SuperSport to take a slot before or after them.
Both sides gave their players off on Sunday ahead of a week of intense preparations as training resumed on Monday.
City played a friendly against their MultiChoice Diski Challenge team on Tuesday in a bid for match sharpness given that they have not had a game since the derby against Ajax Cape Town in September.
The only long-term injury absentee at the club is Aubrey Ngoma‚ still a month off returning to training
Nigerian striker Victor Obinna sat out and trained on his own as he tried to get over the groin injury that forced him off at half-time of the derby‚ after he had scored the opening goal.
Lehlohonolo Majoro‚ Teko Modise and Ronald Putsche all participated in the team’s training session and showed no ill effects from their recent knee and groin problems.
It means McCarthy is likely have a full-strength squad to pick from for the game.
The only long-term injury absentee at the club is Aubrey Ngoma‚ still a month off returning to training.
SuperSport played in the Gauteng Cup at the weekend so have had match practice and also report a clean bill of health‚ save for Onismor Bhasera and Thato Mokeke who have been out since the start of the season and are still some way off returning to action.
Leftback Bhasera had a hip operation, while Mokeke has a shin problem. Mokeke played for City in 2016 when they beat SuperSport in the Telkom Knockout final in Polokwane.