Mon 14 Aug by Nick Said
Ayanda Patosi came off the bench for his Cape Town City on Saturday afternoon and showed enough in his 25 minutes on the pitch to suggest he will be a real asset for Benni McCarthy’s side this season.
Patosi showed deft touches and an eye for goal in the 1-0 victory over Polokwane City that put his side into a two-legged semifinal with BidVest Wits.
After six seasons in Europe with Belgian top-flight side Lokeren, where he was both praised and lambasted, this campaign will be his first in the Premier Soccer League and leaves him with plenty to prove.
What is not in doubt from even his fiercest of critics is the quality that Patosi has as a footballer.
Small in stature, he makes up for that with excellent ball control, fine game awareness consistent quality in his set-piece delivery.
He became something of a cult hero at Lokeren, who he helped to two cup finals, but also frustrated a succession of coaches who felt he did not show the necessary professionalism and aptitude to reach his full potential.
Had he done so, there is the feeling he would either already be at a top team in Belgium, or in a much bigger European league.
He is ready for a new beginning though, and believes that a fine season in the Premier Soccer League can be a boost to his national team chances with the potential of a World Cup for Bafana Bafana next year.
“The guys at the club are like a family, so it’s been easy to settle,” Patosi told TAB SPORTS EXPRESS. “It was an easy decision for me [to join City] after I spoke to Mr John, who I have known for a long time. When he told me of their ambition, it was something that excited me.”
Patosi says the fact that there are so many creative midfielders in the squad means the pressure will be taken off him to come extent.
“We have players with great experience, [Lehlohonolo] Majoro, Teko [Modise] and Lebo [Manyama], they have all had great careers in the PSL, so it will be easy for me to settle quickly with the squad we have around us.”
Patosi believes that playing with Modise in particular can bring out the best in him.
“Teko was a role model for me when he was playing at Orlando Pirates. I was a kid at the [ASD] academy then. Now I get the chance to play with him in the same team. It feels great!
“The most important is that when the team is doing well I can get back in the Bafana Bafana team.”
Patosi was just 18 when he made his debut for Lokeren weeks after arriving at the club along with Ebrahim Seedat, coincidentally now also a teammate at City.
Seedat was back home within one season as he failed to settle in Belgium, but Patosi flourished, on the pitch at least, and was soon a regular, helping the team to the Belgian Cup in 2012 and 2014, and earning the right to play in the UEFA Europa League at the same time.
But he could never shake the accusations that he was not as dedicated to his craft as he should have been. Perhaps back home in Cape Town, he can finally do that this season.