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AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy: ‘We will be playing Caf Champions League next season’

Sazi Hadebe Sports reporter
Benni McCarthy has turned AmaZulu from mid-table hopers to Premiership title contenders in a short space of time.
Benni McCarthy has turned AmaZulu from mid-table hopers to Premiership title contenders in a short space of time.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix/Gallo Images

Benni McCarthy is already looking ahead to having his team participating in the Caf Champions League for the first time in their history‚ saying that will aim to win their remaining four DStv Premiership matches to ensure they get there.

If indeed Usuthu win all those games‚ including an away clash against potential rivals for second spot Orlando Pirates away on May 19‚ the Durban club will finish on 62 points.

The Buccaneers can attain 60‚ which still gives McCarthy’s team a better chance to finish second if they win all the other three matches against Baroka FC (home‚ May 11)‚ Swallows FC (home‚ May 26) and Maritzburg United (away‚ May 29)‚ and Pirates lose or draw one of their remaining five matches.

Leaders Mamelodi Sundowns‚ with a four-point lead and game in hand at the top of the log currently‚ are seen as a shoe-in to win the title for a record fourth time in a row. They can amass 69 points if they win all their five matches‚ starting with TS Galaxy at Mbombela Stadium on Sunday.

With that in mind‚ McCarthy looks to have settled on finishing second behind Sundowns as that will also give his team a ticket to participate in next year’s Champions League‚ becoming the second side from KwaZulu-Natal to do so after Manning Rangers in 1998.

“Believe you me‚ the next four games I can’t see AmaZulu losing those four games‚” McCarthy‚ who was linked in the past few with taking over Bafana Bafana coaching job‚ said.

“So Caf Champions League – we will be playing Caf Champions League [next season]‚ so that brings new challenges.

“With new challenges we can’t just expect to bring a whole new team in because the players that work for us have done their duty for the club. We now have to look and scout and see which three‚ four‚ five players we can bring in and make what we already have better.

“That’s how it works – it’s not that we’re going to make wholesome changes. We’re not that type of team that goes and recruit a new team for the new challenges.

“We work with what we have – for the players that got us there it will be a reward for their hard work. You can’t up and get rid of them.

“But there will be a few new faces that will come in and assist the good team that we already have so we can be ready and competitive for Caf Champions League.”

McCarthy insisted that his team already have the quality to follow in the footsteps of Bidvest Wits‚ SuperSport United‚ Kaizer Chiefs and Sundowns who have represented SA in the Champions League in recent years.

Sundowns won the trophy in 2016 and alongside last season’s Premiership runners-up Chiefs‚ are into the quarter-finals of this season’s edition.

“With the quality that we have we can compete against anyone and we’ll take it game by game and we’ll work towards that [winning the remaining four matches]‚” McCarthy said.

“Ours is about bettering ourselves as a team and you could see in the matches that we’ve played that it was always about AmaZulu.

“We didn’t care about the opposition that we were playing against. We just prepared well for them.”

AmaZulu are on a 16-match unbeaten run that has 11 wins and five draws. The Durban club’s best finish in the PSL era was seventh in the 2011-12 season.

AmaZulu claimed their only league title in the old National Professional Soccer League in 1972.