Like Jose Mourinho‚ Benni McCarthy is happy to win ugly

19 August 2017 - 14:55 By Marc Strydom
Benni McCarthy.
Benni McCarthy.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

Two games and two wins for Benni McCarhy as a head coach‚ and the former Porto striker can see that his Cape Town City team are adaptable and gritty even when conditions are against them.

City fought on the back foot – like Muhammad Ali on the ropes taking a pounding from George Foreman – scoring from their one clearcut opportunity to pickpocket a 1-0 Absa Premiership win against Bidvest Wits at Bidvest Stadium on Friday night.

McCarthy’s first win had come in a 1-0 MTN8 quarterfinal victory against Polokwane City at Cape Town Stadium last Saturday thanks to a Sibusiso Mbonani own goal.

If there has been a touch of fortune to City’s two wins under McCarthy‚ that has been matched by the grit displayed by last season’s third-placed finishers‚ as they find their feet and rhythm under their new coach.

On Friday night‚ bitter cold and a slippery Bidvest pitch‚ which has seen better condition‚ made life more difficult for City – Cape sides never enjoy travelling to Johannesburg – against the league champions.

“What negatives?” McCarthy exclaimed afterwards in half-mock surprise.

“The only negatives is the bloody field man. We couldn’t play the football we wanted to.

“It wasn’t the nicest game of football‚ for us certainly. We prepared to play them off the pitch.

“Because we knew‚ in set pieces we had to bring our ‘A’ game. That’s the only way I saw they were going to get the upper hand on us‚ because they’re really good at it.

“But defending them they’re not so good. So then I said also that when we got opportunities from set pieces we had to make the best of them.

“Because Wits are great attacking them‚ but defending them there could be some opportunities for us.

“And we took an opportunity‚ and we managed to defend. Jose Mourinho has always said that football is not nice all the time – sometimes you have got to win ugly.

“And today we proved that we’re a team who‚ when we’re allowed to play the football that we want to‚ we play it. But when we have to play ugly we can also do that.

“So it’s nice that the team is very adaptable.”

McCarthy won the Uefa Champions League under Mourinho at FC Porto in 2004.

Wits missed a procession of chances and were denied on a few occasions by City goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters too‚ especially in a spectacular save from Gabadinho Mhango’s penalty in the second half.

City had taken the lead through Lehlohonolo’s 41st-minute header from Lebogang Manyama’s free-kick.