CAPE TOWN – Benni McCarthy is rooting for Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns in this weekend’s Nedbank Cup semi-finals. But he is also at pains to stress that his reason has nothing to with football, instead it’s all about the Mother City.
The final of the season-ending competition will be played at Cape Town Stadium on 19 May and the Cape Town City coach believes a clash featuring two of the giants of the South African game will ensure a sell-out crowd.
The semis of the competition will be played this weekend, with Chiefs tackling Free State Stars on Saturday, while Maritzburg United and Sundowns do battle the following day. McCarthy is not, in any way, disrespecting the merits and the chances of Maritzburg and Stars - but, as a Capetonian, he has no choice: he would love the final to be contested between Sundowns and Chiefs.
“For the City of Cape Town, Chiefs v Sundowns would be the dream final,” said McCarthy. “It will pull the crowd as both clubs have a good following in the PSL - and even the neutral fan will be interested in a match of this stature.”
In analysing the two semi-finals, the former Bafana Bafana striker believes if Chiefs and Sundowns play to potential, then they should win; if they don’t, and they are below par on the day, then they could be in trouble.
“The first one between Chiefs and Stars should be a nice encounter,” said McCarthy. “You cannot under-estimate Stars, they are a team that’s hard to beat. They also have a decent coach, who is getting the best out of the players. But if Chiefs turn up, they should have too much for Stars. Chiefs are also at home and, if their fans rally and get behind the team, that will be a plus as well.
“Also remember that this is the one chance that Chiefs have to salvage their season. Steve (Komphela, coach) has been in charge for three years and this is an opportunity for him to get a trophy.”
But, as McCarthy added, if he was forced to choose between which of the two semi-finals to watch, he would go with the second tie between Maritzburg and Sundowns.
“I think this one has the makings of a really good game,” said the City coach. “Maritzburg are at home and their ground is not an easy place to go. They are a solid team and they can catch you on the counter.
“But, in saying that, Sundowns have the quality, they have the class, and they’ve been in such situations many times before.”