Benni McCarthy declares himself ’the special one’, says he’d be ’Thomas Tuchel of SA’ if AmaZulu were rich
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Durban — The upcoming Durban derby between AmaZulu and Royal AM on Saturday afternoon at the Jonsson Kings Park Stadium promises to be one of the most buzzing Kwa-Zulu Natal derbies in several years.
Since the inception of the Premier Soccer League, the Gauteng derbies have tended to overshadow the other Provincial and City derbies. In the past year, AmaZulu and Royal AM have shown that they are ambitious and are aiming to challenge the status quo of South African football.
AmaZulu Chairman Sandile Zungu has made no secret of his desire to transform Usuthu into the best club in South Africa while Shawn Mkhize’s Royal AM have exceeded expectations so far this season and head into the game in third spot.
Royal AM coach John Maduka finds it unfortunate that fans will not be allowed to attend this game given the high intensity that will happen on and off the field. In Mkhize and Zungu, Usuthu and Royal AM have two of the most passionate club owners in the top-flight who are ever-present to watch their teams playing home and away.
Maduka also reckons that his side will face a difficult game given that AmaZulu are “one of the best teams in the country,”.
“They have good players and a good coach (in Benni McCarthy). The fans that will watch the game on TV will be watching good football. While things are not going the way they would like know, they play good football and will enjoy playing against them,” said Maduka at a press conference that was held in Durban.
While Royal AM are ahead of AmaZulu by four points, Maduka does not think his team will be favourites.
“There is a lot of pressure and their players will want to play to the best of their ability. We are playing against a good opponent. We just have to try and do well,” said Maduka.
Meanwhile, AmaZulu’s outspoken coach Benni McCarthy joked at the conference that Maduka is one of the few coaches in top-flight football that he gets along well with.
After finishing second in the league last season, AmaZulu have so far not really been able to emulate their heroics in the league this season. They have won just three out of their 13 games so far.
“We’ve only lost two games in the league. I don’t need to panic and don’t need emergency meetings. We are drawing a lot which is a massive pain but there are teams above us in the league that have lost more times. With three points, we could potentially jump to fifth and then be two points behind second place. For me the frustration is that we drew games that we should have won. If we won those games, we would have only been a few points behind Sundowns who lead the league,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy hinted that his side can still recover as they were in a similar position when he took charge of the club in November 2020. However, he did add that things are different this season given that his side also has to cope with the demands of the CAF Champions League.
“As a former player and now a coach, I understand the serious implications of not taking advantage of situations. We don’t have the depth that Kaizer Chiefs and Sundowns have. We should be creating a cushion and taking advantages of the situations and win games or it could affect us later,” said McCarthy.
Questioned about why Sundowns are runaway league leaders, McCarthy indicated that it is due to the resources and players they have.
“If you give me the money that they have to buy players, I’ll show you how quick I can wrap up the league but I don’t have that luxury. If I had that, I would be the Thomas Tuchel of South Africa,” said McCarthy.