JOHANNESBURG – Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy fired the first shot leading up to the Cape Derby against their rivals Ajax Cape Town on Saturday at Cape Town Stadium.
This derby – fuelled by the rivalry of the two families who worked together at Ajax before falling out, the Efstathious who remained at the Urban Warriors and the Comitis who now own the Citizens – has captured the imagination of the Mother City. McCarthy was at the centre of derby in the first leg as the inspiration of the formation of Ajax but got his first job as head coach with their rivals the Citizens.
“Listen, I think that it’s good for South African football that in most provinces we have two good teams that are rivals.
Here in Jozi you have the Soweto giants with the ultimate derby that we have in the country (between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates). Then you have the Tshwane Derby (between Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United) which is fast growing with beautiful football and lots of goals.
You have the Free State derby (between Free State Stars and Bloemfontein Celtic). And then there is the Cape Derby, Ajax and us a newly formed team but fast becoming superior because you have the Mac Daddy (McCarthy),” McCarthy jokingly said.
“It’s good for South African football and for Cape Town as a whole, showcasing the good game of football with a lot of young players who are on display. For me to have a player like Craig Martin who came from the amateur ranks, played in his first derby and did so well is unbelievable. It shows you the amount of talent that comes out there and the passion that you see in the derby.
Then you get me saying you mustn’t push my players (in reference to his profane-laden utterance during a heated moment in the last Cape derby). It’s fantastic.”
What wasn’t fantastic for McCarthy was seeing his team drawn against Bidvest Wits in the Nedbank Cup last 32 that will be played in February.
“Awful! I came here hoping for a nice, really ‘tough’ opposition, maybe from the NFD or something at home,” McCarthy said. “And then I get the shark. Yeses! But hey, what can you do? That’s football for you.
The boys are going to need motivation because when you are playing the league champions, then who needs motivation? We have proven it in the beginning of the season where I was probably the most scared I have ever been, facing the coach (Gavin Hunt) who launched my career in my first job as a coach. I think that I handled it well. We did well.
So I think that gave me a little bit of confidence which will ensure that we go into this encounter well-prepared and knowing what we have to do to get a result against Wits. That’s what we are going to do. We are going to grind out a result like we did in the MTN8 and the league.
What’s frustrating is getting them in the league and then a week later we face them in the Nedbank Cup.”