‘Ralani has this reputation now’

The 31-year-old was City’s hero over the weekend, scoring a brace as his side came from 2-0 down to beat Bloemfontein Celtic 3-2 in their final encounter of 2018.

After a relatively quiet first-half, Ralani netted twice within three minutes in the second, as McCarthy explained his pivotal role in securing the City comeback.

“Ralani has this reputation now,” the City coach said. “Every team we play, people are marking him tightly because he is a player than can create, but he’s been to Europe and has to play with a bit more intelligence as he knows he’s going to be marked tightly, and should sometimes get into areas where defenders don’t want to go and create space for himself.

“Against Celtic I said to him that the defenders would be on him. In the first half he was non-existent, but in the second-half with the help of [Ebrahim] Seedat on the overlap, they created the 2-v-1 situation which gave him a bit more freedom as their right-back was more worried about Seedat. So Ralani ended up getting two free and lucky shots and was able to run at goal and finish the way he did.”

The brace finally broke Ralani’s duck in the league, having played 24 league matches since being signed in January, with McCarthy left thrilled for his talented forward.

“In training we see it every day, so I’m surprised he waited until the last day of the year to show us what he does in training on a regular basis,” he said. He’s the best finisher in the team that I have, but just wasn’t scoring, but when we needed it most, he came through. So I was very happy with that, and happy for him as well.”

City end 2018 ninth on the Absa Premiership table, and will kick-off 2019 with an away fixture at SuperSport United.