Benni the football manager takes centre stage

12 August 2017 - 10:46
By Nick Said‚ Cape Town
Benni McCarthy makes his debut as a head coach.
Image: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images Benni McCarthy makes his debut as a head coach.

Benni McCarthy has promised a “new” Cape Town City but it is likely to be more of the same from MTN8 quarterfinal opponents Polokwane City when the teams clash at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

 suggesting that he is in charge of a squad that is 35 percent better than last season’s third-placed PSL finishers.

McCarthy might not welcome those comments‚ and having already admitted this week that he is “nervous as hell”‚ how he handles the pressure this season could make or break his campaign.

He has tried to stamp his own authority on the team from the plans laid down by predecessor Eric Tinkler.

“I think last year the team relied a lot on counter-attacking‚” McCarthy said.

“They allowed teams to play against us‚ then hit them on the counter. I want it a little bit different‚ where we are putting teams under pressure.

“So I like a lot of high-pressing‚ but if you do it‚ you have to do it properly and that’s what most of the training sessions have been about ... lots of high-pressing where we put teams on the back foot instead of us being on the back foot.

“We don’t want to just rely on counter-attacking‚ we want to have variation strategically.”

McCarthy has also admitted that Polokwane are something of a closed book to him‚ though he could take much from watching the videos of their meetings last season‚ with little having changed in terms of personnel and the philosophy of coach Bernard Molekwa.

Molekwa led the team to sixth in the league last season‚ having been given a platform by Belgian coach Luc Eymel‚ and will mastermind the team’s debut in the MTN8 competition.

“The mood in the team is good‚ the players are really looking forward to this opportunity because they worked hard to put themselves here (into the MTN8)‚” Molekwa said.

“The players know what the expectations are and what it means for the club to be in the MTN8. We now need to go to Cape Town and get the right result.

“Everybody is fit and ready‚ so I am spoiled for choice with my selection‚ it’s not going to be easy.

“Our preparations have gone well‚ we had a really good pre-season and now the time has come for us to gauge ourselves against a very good team in a competitive game.”

Cape Town City’s first-ever fixture last year was against Polokwane City when Bhongolwethu Jayiya and Aubrey Ngoma scored in a 2-0 win.

And their previous competitive fixture was also against the Limpopo club‚ this time a 4-2 away defeat denied them second place in the league and a spot in the 2018 Caf Champions League.