SuperSport United coach Cavin Johnson is ready for his first challenge in the hot seat, in an appetising clash against English giants Manchester City in the first of two Nelson Mandela Football Invitational matches at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday.
The former Platinum Stars coach will be in charge of the Pretoria side for the first time after taking over from Gavin Hunt. The highly anticipated clash against the 2011/12 English Premiership champions will be held in honour of ailing former president Nelson Mandela.
“The focus now is on Man City and putting on a good show,” said Johnson.
“I’m hopeful that we can put out a good performance against one of the best teams in England.
“There would be no better way to honour Madiba than scoring the winner in the 67th minute.”
Johnson confirmed United would show off new signings David Mathebula, Ennocent Mkhabela, Bennett Chenene and Mame Niang.
New star Thuso Phala, however, would miss out because of an ankle injury he picked up on Bafana Bafana duty last month.
Man City arrived with their best players yesterday, including Ivorian star Yaya Touré, Argentine Sergio Aguero, and new signings Fernandinho and Jesus Navas.
The Blues will also have their new manager, Manuel Pellegrini, sitting on the bench for the first time, with the Chilean having taken over from Robert Mancini, who was fired last season.
“Man City fans will see a different way of playing than they have seen in other years. We will try to be an attractive team,” said Pellegrini.
Ironically, Johnson was also brought in to infuse an enterprising brand of football at SuperSport, who have one of the best defences in the South African Premiership.
Despite their “keep it simple” approach in the six years under Hunt, they managed to lift three successive league titles between 2007 and 2010.
“The way I’m looking at it, Man City are one of the top teams in England and we are one of the top teams in the country, so we will be giving them good competition on the day,” said Johnson.
“But it’s still preseason, and my focus is on implementing the style that United will be playing this season and looking to attack.
“Every player has responded well to me since we started preseason, and we had two decent preparation games in Cape Town where we held our camp.”
Man City will end their tour against AmaZulu at Moses Mabhida Stadium, in Durban, on July 18 – Mandela’s birthday.
The funds generated from both fixtures will go towards the refurbishment of 10 schools in Madiba’s hometown of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
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