CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City certainly know what it takes to win the Telkom Knockout - and, having experienced the euphoria of victory in the MTN8 last month - the Citizens are keen for another good run in a Cup competition.
The Cape side tackles AmaZulu in the opening round of the Telkom Knockout at the Princess Magogo Stadium tonight (7.30pm kickoff). Already through to the quarter-finals of this event are Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, Maritzburg United, Baroka FC and SuperSport United; now either City or AmaZulu have an opportunity to join the above-mentioned in the last eight.
When City were established as a PSL club in 2016, they defied the odds to win this tournament in their debut season, when Eric Tinkler was the head coach. The new man in charge, Benni McCarthy, is now in his second season as a head coach, but has already steered the Capetonians to Cup glory (last month’s MTN8).
McCarthy has always been a tough competitor and a serial winner - and no doubt he will want his team to go all the way again. But he admits it won’t be easy; he is particularly wary of AmaZulu because he has great respect for their coach Cavin Johnson. In fact, there is a bit of mutual admiration between the two coaches. Johnson has made no secret of the fact that he loves the work McCarthy has produced at City, while McCarthy, in turn, waxed lyrical about how highly he held the AmaZulu coach in his esteem.
“AmaZulu are a good outfit and have a top coach in Cavin Johnson, who is also a very good friend of mine,” said McCarthy. “I like his philosophy of coaching, I love the playing style he brings to teams he coaches. He is fearless and his teams always go for it. So it’s going to be an entertaining game; it will be an open, good game of football, with two teams wanting to entertain, but also wanting to win to get a passage to the next round of the competition.”
While City may have won a Cup trophy last month, their overall form has been hot and cold. The main reason behind their inconsistency is the inability to convert possession and territory into goals. The team’s league form is particularly worrying to McCarthy. After tonight’s Cup tie with AmaZulu, City face the same opposition in the league - at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night - and McCarthy knows exactly the approach he wants to take, and what he wants from his team.
“The game against AmaZulu will be good on the eye,” he said. “But I want to put out my strongest team (tonight) because I don’t want to lose this match. I think a win will give us good momentum for the league games coming up. We’ve had a two-week break and a Cup tie like this gives me the chance to use this as an opportunity to springboard my players.
“The next league game is against the same opposition (AmaZulu) - so, psychologically, you want to win this game to get one-up on them. Because of that, I want to make sure that we do our best and come away with the victory.”