Cape Town City vs Kaizer Chiefs showdown unlikely to be played in the Mother City

07 August 2019 - 14:20
By Nick Said
Cape Town City FC Chairman John Comitis during the Cape Town City FC press conference at Radisson Red Hotel on September 13, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images Cape Town City FC Chairman John Comitis during the Cape Town City FC press conference at Radisson Red Hotel on September 13, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Cape Town’s legion of Kaizer Chiefs fans must brace themselves for the fact that this month’s meeting between Cape Town City and the AmaKhosi is unlikely to be played in the Mother City.

Cape Town has one of the biggest Chiefs supporters’ branches in the country and matches are usually a sell-out when the Soweto giants come to town‚ but that now may not happen in the 2019/20 season.

City owner John Comitis has confirmed that they are looking to take the Absa Premiership clash between the two clubs on August 27 outside of Cape Town as their battle with the local municipality over available stadia rolls on.

Comitis says that if they cannot play Chiefs at the Cape Town Stadium‚ then they will have to take the game elsewhere as the alternate venue‚ the Athlone Stadium‚ cannot safely host a game of this magnitude.

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"We would never play Chiefs at Athlone‚ we cannot do that‚ it's not safe‚” Comitis says.

“We have to consider moving the game completely out of the city.

"I don't think we will be there [Cape Town Stadium]. When I saw the pitch I think they are three weeks away from being ready.

"We have to start looking at our options with regards Kaizer Chiefs because Athlone Stadium is not fit for a game like Chiefs.”

It would not be the first time City have played a 'home' game outside of Cape Town‚ in the 2017/18 season they hosted Maritzburg United at Durban's Princess Magogo Stadium as there were no venues available in their home city.

Comitis is incensed that the City of Cape Town informed the club on Monday that they would not be able to host Saturday’s season opener against Stellenbosch FC at the World Cup venue as the pitch was not ready.

A check by club officials confirmed this‚ with one telling TimesLIVE it was “atrocious”.

The city has blamed unusually wet and cold weather on the delay‚ but Comitis says there has been a lack of commitment to make sure the stadium was ready for use.

"You cannot control the weather‚ but what was in the hands of the Cape Town Stadium was what were they prepared to do to make sure that pitch was ready‚” Comitis said.

“It is always a financial thing. We could have trucked in loads of grass and done a lot of other things. It is an expense‚ but it is all about how much you value your tenant.

"It is very frustrating‚ it is a game where we would have had a good 12‚000 fans. We have put our fans out again‚ and you know everything we do is around building a fanbase and making their experience great. Unfortunately we can’t do that this weekend.”

The good news is that the Athlone surface is in good nick‚ according to Comitis.

"The pitch at Athlone is in good order‚ so that will allow us to play the football we like to play‚” he said.

"This is the best squad I have assembled since Cape Town City has been around. I am confident they will continue playing great football."

Comitis confirmed that coach Benni McCarthy will be back from paternity leave on Thursday evening following the birth of his son and joked that he already had a deal in place to sign the youngster.

"The contract is signed!” Comitis said with a chuckle.

“Benni will be back tomorrow evening‚ but the ship has been going well without him‚ we have great professionals and they haven't missed a beat.

“But his aura and presence makes a big difference to the side."