Benni backs Soweto giants to close gap on Downs
AmaZulu coach surprised Bucs couldn't challenge for title
After a disappointing season for Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy expects both teams to challenge Mamelodi Sundowns for the title in the new campaign.
McCarthy, who led Usuthu to a historic second-place finish last season, is impressed with how the two giants have been beefing up their squad in the transfer market, especially Chiefs, who have been more active.
Speaking as a guest during the Carling Black Label press conference yesterday, McCarthy, who played in this tournament with the Buccaneers in the past, believes the two Soweto giants will improve next season.
“I think Pirates had a disappointing season by their standards. With all the signings that they have made, collecting a lot of top-class players from Bidvest Wits, and not being able to challenge Sundowns was not good,” McCarthy said.
“Chiefs, on the other hand, were restricted by the Fifa ban. They brought in coach Gavin Hunt and it was a complete disaster. But in the end they managed to get into the Champions League final.
“Before they were reduced to 10 men [against Al Ahly] they were still very much in the game, and maybe they could have been crowned champions if they didn’t lose Happy Mashiane.
“They salvaged the season by playing in the final of the Champions League and finishing in the top eight in the last hurdle.
“Both these giants didn’t have the best of seasons. Chiefs have gone guns blazing, buying everyone under the sun and they want to make up for the season they had.”
The 43-year-old coach also believes the Carling Cup match on August 1 at Orlando Stadium will also give a clear indication of how they will perform next season.
“I hope it will be a fantastic spectacle because, for SA football, we need Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates to be on top of their game to provide the atmosphere and the drama from the fans when they are allowed back to the stadium,” he said.
“We need these two teams to be up there together with Sundowns for our league to take huge strides in the right direction. I believe they will give us a challenge this season and from us and Sundowns [the challenge will be] to bring our A-game.”
Meanwhile, despite the continuing ban on alcohol sales in the country, more than two million votes had been received for the starting line-ups of both teams.
The voting will close on Tuesday at midnight and supporters have a say in the formation, the captains as well as the penalty takers on match day.
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