AmaZulu in high spirits ahead of historic Champions League clash, says Benni McCarthy
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DURBAN - AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy believes that Bafana Bafana’s World Cup qualification win over Ghana has lifted “spirits within the camp” as his side prepare for their historic first ever CAF Champions League game against Malawian side Nyasa Big Bullets FC at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Friday afternoon.
“We’ve had a pleasant international break, capped by Bafana winning. People are happier and we used the time well. The facilities that we had were excellent and we worked on strategies and different formations. We worked on aspects of our game such as how we will manage the physicality of the African league. We want the game to come now because we think we have prepared well. We hope to do Africa proud as Bafana Bafana have done,” said McCarthy.
The Premier Soccer League’s oldest team secured entry into Africa’s premier cup competition after finishing second in the DSTV Premiership last season. Their 2021/22 season has started on a less than ideal note as they have failed to win any of their three competitive games so far. They opened their campaign with a MTN 8 elimination against Cape Town City before losing their league opener against Sundowns and following that up with a stalemate against Moroka Swallows.
On paper, McCarthy’s charges will be the favourites against Big Bullets. Not only will they have home advantage but Malawian teams are also not renowned for performing well in cup competitions. However, McCarthy is aware that his troops will be up against unfamiliar opposition which could potentially cause problems for his side.
“We are going into the unexpected and don’t know what we will be up against. We don’t know how quick or strong they are. We have to rely on the little game footage we have from the Malawian league. When we play at home, we will make sure that their strengths do not punish us. We looked at what they are good at and try and ensure that they do not catch us off guard. They are a physical side and so we don’t want to give away set-pieces. They have height advantage and are physically strong,” said McCarthy.
While AmaZulu are not among the favourites to go far in the Champions League this season, there is little doubt that the ambitious McCarthy will be aiming to surprise the neutrals.
McCarthy is aware that his side need to perform well in all their home games if they want to advance into the deep stages of the continental competition.
“Home advantage counts massively. Kaizer Chiefs succeeded in the competition last season because they punished teams at home. We want to draw inspiration from that. Even if we get unfavourable away matches, we must get good victories at home as it will give us a fighting chance in away games,” said McCarthy.