European players are faster and more aggressive than ours, says coach Benni McCarthy

06 March 2019 - 07:00 By Marc Strydom
Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy watches on during the MTN8 second leg semifinal match against Mamelodi Sundowns at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on September 2 2018.
Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy watches on during the MTN8 second leg semifinal match against Mamelodi Sundowns at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on September 2 2018.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

European players, especially forwards, play with an aggression and high tempo from the first minute of a match until the very last, unlike those in South Africa, who play in patches.

This is according to Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy.

The former FC Porto and Blackburn Rovers striker was referring, in part, to the manner in which his players came back from a lethargic opening half against Bidvest Wits at Johannesburg’s Bidvest Stadium on Saturday night. The Citizens were 2-0 down at the break, but came back to overwhelm the Clever Boys 3-2.

McCarthy said that his instructions in the change room were for City to lift their intensity in the Absa Premiership matchup, to take fewer touches, up their movement and utilise the pace of their small, fast front-runners against the bigger Wits players.

The tactic worked to great effect. Goals from Kermit Erasmus and Surprise Ralani cancelled out the lead within eight minutes of the restart, before Riyaad Norodien scored the winner from a stunning free kick in the 68th minute.

“I wanted more of that. And when we started doing it, we got joy. And I think we don’t do it enough,” McCarthy said.

“I think, when you watch European football, what you see is that from the first minute Kun Aguero, Sadio Mane, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling – they don’t wait for the second half. They don’t manage their first half just to get by so that in the second half then they can go.

“They do it from the first minute – ‘You’re going to have a nightmare against me’ – until the 90th minute, or for as long as they’re on the pitch.

“Whereas with us, we do it in phases, which is … I don’t know if it’s our culture, but it’s something that we need to shake off very quickly.”

City beat Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on Tuesday night. Sundowns are now second on the log, with City a close third. Orlando Pirates have taken top spot.

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