Benni McCarthy hoping for happy home return with AmaZulu
CAPE TOWN - Benni McCarthy and his high-flying AmaZulu team will be in the ’18-yard area’ this evening when they face Stellenbosch FC at the Danie Craven Stadium.
It will be the first time McCarthy will be back in the Mother City after parting ways with Cape Town City last year. He has certainly bounced back after that disappointment by transforming "the sleeping giant" of KwaZulu-Natal into a genuine DStv Premiership title contender with Usuthu potentially moving up into second place on the log should they overcome Stellies.
Furthermore, McCarthy is being heavily touted to take over from Molefi Ntseki, who was fired last week, as the new Bafana Bafana coach.
Although wherever Bafana's leading marksman goes he is bound to be the headline act, plenty of credit should be afforded to the AmaZulu players for the manner in which they have adapted to McCarthy's tactics and game plans.
"I think we are preparing well. You could see during the week that we are highly motivated.
“I think the game against Stellenbosch will be important because if we win the game we'll gain points which would take us to second on the standings. That would also mean we'll be closer to Sundowns who'll still play us as well," Makhehlene Makhaula said.
The midfielder, along with Siyethemba Sithebe and Xola Mlambo, has been vital to AmaZulu's charge up the table that have seen them go unbeaten in their last 11 matches.
Makhaula believes the team's preparation under McCarthy has been central to this successful run and is confident they can continue their success in the Winelands today.
"It's going to be a very difficult game away from home. But anything is possible. We went to Venda, where we played against Black Leopards, and we came back with three points. It was also a difficult game," he said.
"But I think we can also do it even now, where we can go to Stellenbosch and come back with three points. We've been preparing well, thanks to the coach. We know everything about Stellenbosch, their strengths and weaknesses."
The home side, meanwhile, return to their base in Stellenbosch fresh off a thrilling 2-2 draw with Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium.
Stellies will be full of confidence knowing that they pushed the Soweto giants right to the very end, but will also be trying to shrug off the disappointment of twice not holding onto their lead in the dying stages.
"We've got AmaZulu at home on Friday so we've got to get ourselves up for that, get over the disappointment of not getting it over the line," Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker said.
"In our last five games there has been an improvement from our win over Cape Town City and Baroka and the two games preceding this. Definitely there is more quality in our play.
“We're getting where we want to. It's taken a bit longer than we had hoped to get our structures going, but we're still in the hunt to get a top eight finish."