Coach Benni McCarthy’s team have managed just 17 goals in their PSL campaign to date and Mthembu and Rusike have netted just five of those.
With new signing Kermit Erasmus ready to burst into the team in 2019 and Tokelo Rantie given time to sort out his personal issues, Saturday’s PSL clash against Bloem Celtic will be the last chance this year for Mthembu and Rusike to find killer touch.
Erasmus’ arrival has McCarthy excited and chairman John Comitis says that the club will stand by struggling Rantie, after initial reports that the Bafana Bafana man could be released.
However, the player is going through a tough life challenge and Comitis says: “I would just like to say that Tokelo’s issues are personal to him. We are still in the background supporting Tokelo
“[In] everybody’s career at some point, they go through some difficult patches and some challenges are harder than others.
“And we need to just respect him that he needs some space he is a great player.”
That leaves club top-scorer Mthembu, with just three goals, under the cosh with Steve Komphela’s team coming to Cape Town Stadium.
With Rusike also struggling for game time as he fights to regain his fitness, McCarthy has even looked at playing strikerless formations.
Last week in the 1-1 draw with Chippa United, City played with a “false nine”, with attacking midfielder Ayanda Patosi operating as a frontman.
McCarthy said he used the tactic to shake off the attention of defenders who had gotten used to the patterns of his striker’s movements.
And it’s up to Mthembu to find ways to carve out more openings for himself and improve his movement and positioning.
However, it remains to be seen how the coach sets his team up against Celtic, with Rusike still expected to be on the sidelines.
He has been making use of his wide players like Surprise Ralani, Riyaad Norodien, Gift Links and Craig Martin to create space for the likes of Thabo Nododa and Patosi through the middle.