Elated Benni McCarthy gushes over his players after AmaZulu march into the history books

25 October 2021 - 07:24
AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy.
AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

If it was up to AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy,  a statue would be erected in Durban first thing on Monday morning in honour of his players after they delivered a historic win to advance to the group stages of the Caf Champions League at the weekend. 

McCarthy could barely contain himself as he celebrated his charges after they dumped five-time Champions League winners TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo out of Africa’s prestigious competition on their own astro turf backyard on Saturday to qualify for the group stages.

The coach's elation is understandable as AmaZulu have continued to punch well above their weight while they participate in the continental event for the first time in their history after finishing second in the DStv Premiership — their highest ever finish in the domestic league — last season.

AmaZulu played to a 0-0 draw against Mazembe in Durban last weekend, but a critical away goal by striker Bongi Ntuli at the weekend earned the Durban club a famous 1-1 aggregate win that took them to the money-spinning Last 16 stage of the competition, where McCarthy’s team will be rubbing shoulders with some of the top teams on the continent.

“I hope people will remember us for as long we’re alive because we’re the first team to do things at AmaZulu,” said McCarthy after his team’s stunning win on Saturday at the Stade de Mazembe.

“We could have won the match with two, three or four goals. The highlight of the day for me was the team spirit. These boys went out to play for their team.

“My teamt have a strong mentality and we’re absolutely delighted to be in charge of this group of players.

"We’re history makers, the first [AmaZulu] team to finish second in the league and the first team to qualify for the Caf Champions league group stages.”

McCarthy, who is not afraid to criticise his players when they produce bad performances,  said he becomes critical of his charges because he knows they have quality to win tough battles like the one they won on Saturday.

“I know sometimes I’m a tough coach. I’m a tough father, but it is only because I want the best for my players and I want the best for my kids. That why," said McCarthy.

“I think they need to be more focused because you can’t have the ability, the quality that we have and then we [become] mediocre [at times].

“When when I’m critical about my team, it is because I know what they have and I don’t want them to lower their standard.

"That’s why sometimes I am very hard [on the players] when I criticise them and I say things because I want them to understand footballers have short careers.

“We have 15 years, 20 years maximum in a career and you have to make the most of what you have. I don’t want them to have any regrets the day they hang up their boots. That’s why I’m the way I am.

“But they showed me what I know when I see them every  day [at training]. I saw heart, I saw character, I saw personality, I saw arrogance and I saw a football team not afraid of anything.”