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Benni McCarthy: ‘The efforts of Pirates and everybody else are going to go in vain’

Sazi Hadebe Sports reporter
Benni McCarthy says his AmaZulu team are determined for a second spot finish that will qualify them for the Caf Champions League for the first time in the club's rich history.
Benni McCarthy says his AmaZulu team are determined for a second spot finish that will qualify them for the Caf Champions League for the first time in the club's rich history.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy believes three points from their two remaining matches in their remarkable DStv Premiership campaign will still be enough to see them finishing second behind champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

McCarthy’s team suffered a 1-0 defeat to Orlando Pirates in an emotionally-charged match at Orlando Stadium on Thursday.

Afterwards McCarthy criticised the match officials‚ led by referee Siyabulela Qunta‚ for their handling of the tie‚ saying “we were outplayed by the referees”.

“But I can’t fault my team for commitment and effort. Orlando Pirates didn’t play as good as to take all three points. But in football it happens sometimes.

“We live to lick our wounds‚ but now we need to pick ourselves up.”

Gabadinho Mhango’s exquisite free-kick provided the Buccaneers’ 76th-minute winner. Despite the loss in the match that ended with McCarthy’s heated exchange with Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer‚ Usuthu’s coach insisted his team’s chances to qualify for next season’s Caf Champions League remain very much on course.

“We weren’t at our level best‚ yet we weren’t the worst team on the pitch‚” McCarthy‚ whose side are still in second position on the log despite suffering a second successive loss‚ said.

“We take it [the defeat] with a pinch of salt – we’ll look back and go and analyse and we look forward to our next two matches because finishing second in the league still depends on us and nobody else.

“We have to make sure that in the next two games we’re more clinical and we start the match better. With a win or two wins we’ll finish second. One win and we still finish second.

“So all the efforts that Pirates and everybody else have done are going to go in vain because we only need one win from two games now.”

McCarthy’s calculation was off the mark because their loss to Pirates means AmaZulu can still finish behind Bucs if Usuthu win one of the two remaining matches against Swallows FC on Wednesday and Maritzburg United on June 5.

AmaZulu are currently on 50 points and four ahead of Pirates‚ who have three matches remaining and can finish with 55 if they win all of them.

Third-placed Lamontville Golden Arrows can also finish above Usuthu on 52 points if they win their last two matches and McCarthy’s team loses both its last two games.

“We have it in our own hands‚ we don’t need to depend on anybody else but we have to do better than the performance we gave today‚” McCarthy added.

AmaZulu looked well on course to at least earn a point against Pirates on Thursday and McCarthy said it was the influence and decision of the match officials that helped his former club take the full spoils.

“The best we could have got in this game would have been a draw‚ which would have been very fair‚” said the AmaZulu coach.

“But of course the referees today had other ideas. Things didn’t go the way we expected and the way we wanted.

“But like I said to the boys‚ ‘These are three cup finals and every team wants to beat us and they want to be where we are’.

“So‚ if we’re not focused‚ prepared and have the right commitment than we’re going to make things difficult.”

McCarthy did not specify which officiating decisions went against AmaZulu.