Why Benni McCarthy was the most relieved man in Cape Town on Saturday
Benni McCarthy’s first reaction was one of relief as his Cape Town City team kicked off the new Premier Soccer League season with a home victory over SuperSport United.
The victory gave City a boost of confidence to take to Baroka FC in midweek and to Maritzburg United for next weekend’s MTN8 quarterfinals.
Before he even started his post-match analysis‚ the first thing the 40-year-old coach said was: “The monkey is off my back.”
But he was also pleased with a full haul of points after a cracking half volley from Roland Putsche put City ahead after 55 minutes and then substitute Craig Martin made it 2-0 midway through the second half for a full haul of points.
But Aubrey Modiba had a horror miss for SuperSport that should have brought them back into the game and James Keane was brought down for a clear penalty that was surprisingly not awarded by referee Kulsane Qongqo.
City dominated possession as SuperSport waited to catch them on the counter attack but for all their ball play they did not really test Ronwen Williams until after half-time.
“We started off a little bit slow‚ more than I expected.
"I wanted us to start off well from the get-go‚ make out intentions clear but our first passes were sloppy and we allowed them to get into the game‚” said McCarthy.
“I think we started growing into our own. We knew that they were going to try and press us high because they know that we want to try and play out from the back.
“I told the guys ‘we’ve done it the whole pre-season‚ that why didn’t do any running‚ we hardly ran‚ we just played football‚ everyone must be comfortable on the ball’ and I think it showed. We kept our composure and played through their pressing.”
“I said to them at half-time‚ ‘OK‚ it all looks nice but to me it looks like we are training still’ because we weren’t penetrating. It was nice football but it was all in front of the opposition.”
After the break‚ McCarthy wanted his wingers to get behind the SuperSport defence and also drag them across
“We know Morgan (Gould) and Clayton (Daniels) are two very good‚ very experienced central defenders that clean up everything in front of them.
"But if the ball goes behind them‚ turning will be a problem for them. That’s exactly what happened.
“We got Surprise (Ralani) in‚ exactly as we said‚ forcing their defence to shift over. And then when you score a goal like that you have to go on and win the game. A fantastic strike by Roland.”
Near the end‚ though‚ City contrived to allow SuperSport back into the game as they got sloppy.
Also SuperSport brought on James Keane and Fagrie Lakay as they changed the game plan and adopted a direct attacking approach.
“I started getting a bit angry and frustrated with the guys because we started inviting them to get back into the game by making sloppy little passes‚ little mistakes that can be costly‚” McCarthy said.
“That is one of the aspects we need to go back and revisit because we cannot afford to lose our focus towards the end of the game.
"We need to see out a game properly. It is another area where we need to improve.
“It’s a long season and this is just the first one but an important one because we had targeted this to get off to a good start.”
City are away against Baroka FC in Polokwane on Wednesday and then meet Maritzburg in the MTN8 at the Harry Gwala Stadium next Sunday.