Photo: Phando Jikelo/ANA Pictures
Benni is in the 18-area, in case you haven’t heard. The Cape Town City area as the new head coach, and McCarthy replaces his ex-Bafana Bafana colleague Eric Tinkler, who joined SuperSport United last week.

Naturally there is excitement and there is some doubt. Will a figure as loved as the all-time national top goalscorer take the Mother City club to greater heights, a step further than a third place finish and a Telkom Knockout trophy under Tinkler’s leadership during the 2016/17 season? Or will it all end in tears, given that McCarthy doesn’t quite fit the criteria of a proven Premier Soccer League coach?

Well, the proof will be in the pudding.

McCarthy, 39, has – in the several years since his retirement -worked hard at attaining the necessary qualifications, serving as a striker consultant at Scottish side Hibernian and being roped in by South Africa-raised Chris O’Loughlin as assistant at Belgian club Sint Truiden for a short time last year.

It’s possible that eyebrows wouldn’t be raised if McCarthy had been appointed coach of Baroka FC or Polokwane City for instance, but City have had such great success from the time businessman John Comitis bought the Mpumalanga Black Aces franchise a year ago, relocated the club to Cape Town, and hired Tinkler.

In that sense, they are considered a serious team – one that is likely to continue challenging for honours year after year. And maybe McCarthy just isn’t ready?

But then again – he is Benni. Larger than life, been around the block as a player as well as a protégé to an extent. Soon after retiring in 2013, having helped Orlando Pirates win another treble, McCarthy set his sights on coaching courses and getting ready to give back, with a view from the dugout this time around.

Cape Town City Coach Benni McCarthy. Photo: Phando Jikelo/ANA Pictures

It would be impossible to deny the argument that he should have started from the bottom before making his way up the PSL food chain. But his appointment could still prove a masterstroke.

Comitis, who had the option of veterans in Dutchman Ruud Krol and Turkish-born Muhsin Ertugral, two coaches well-versed with what is needed to succeed in the PSL, clearly has complete trust in McCarthy as he decided on the only South African to win an European Champions League medal.

Tinkler is the best example of “working your way up”. It took him nearly 10 years after his retirement before he could hold the title of head coach, and it was at a side with an incredible stature in Pirates after he’d served as assistant to Roger de Sa and Vladimir Vermezovic. Look at him now. By the way, you can’t please everyone. Tinkler still has detractors, who feel it was too early for him to be given the SuperSport gig.

Another former Bafana striker – Shaun Bartlett – is currently out in the trenches, desperately trying to get the University of Pretoria back into the elite league after they were relegated two seasons ago. 

Bartlett also saw to it that Golden Arrows achieved promotion in May 2015, but was unfortunately sacked prior to the start of the new season.

Some will argue McCarthy hasn’t been in the trenches, while others will counter by claiming he’s done his bit in that department, and the job at City is nothing he can’t handle.

Only a few more weeks before we know for sure.

Good luck Benni.

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The Star

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