MOTIVATION: Coach Benni McCarthy. PHOTO: MUZI NTOMBELA/BACKPAGEPIX.

What a time for Cape Town City to lose their unbeaten record against Mamelodi Sundowns.

Wednesday night’s clash at Loftus Versfeld was a chance for City to show their class and ambition.

The PSL match-up was set up for Benni McCarthy’s manne.

Here they were given the shot to really throw the cat among the pigeons in the title race - maintain their run of form against Downs and they would be level with the Brazilians, who would still have a game in hand.

That would have put them on 36 points with third-placed Orlando Pirates too and two behind leaders Wits with nine games to play.

But the moment was too big for City. Benni has often said that his players aren’t ready for a title push.

He reckons that they lack that big match temperament and the consistency.

When destiny was calling them, they shied away. Their first-half performance was nowhere near good enough.

Downs simple rolled Benni’s team over. They carved through his midfield and defence at will - using the ball over the top to exploit the high defensive line to get the opener after 23 minutes.

Pitso Mosimane’s champions were only 1-0 up at the break and when Riyaad Norodien equalised early in the second half, you thought that Benni, who smaaks to skel, had let his players have it and they were turning it around.

But almost immediately, Anthony Laffor fired home after City’s defence lost their concentration. And Phakamani Mahlambu made sure of the points before Kermit Erasmus’ late consolation goal.

In the end, 3-2 flattered the Capetonians who will have to learn their lessons. This one was a big one - when you are in season-changing situations, you have to have the ballas to come through.

Here City failed to be in the mix for the title, but if they can get their act together, who knows how the campaign will end for them with the Nedbank Cup quarterfinal against Kaizer Chiefs coming up next month.

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