Benni McCarthy celebrates with his Cape Town City players after Riyaad Norodien scored against Wits. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Cape Town City’s Benni McCarthy is an astute player’s coach that would go to the moon and back in the defence of his troops – from bad officiating or career-threatening fouls.

But on Saturday night, his troops were at the receiving end of a tongue-lashing speech when they weren’t pulling their weight around – enduring a 2-0 deficit at halftime against Wits.

In the second half, that worked like a charm, as City gallantly fought their way back into the game to grab all three points, thanks to goals from Kermit Erasmus, Riyaad Norodien and Surprise Ralani after Wits had netted through Thulani Hlatshwayo and Gift Motupa.

“We started slow, and I think that we had to adapt to the altitude. When we were two goals down, I saw heads dropped, but I said to them ‘We are not in this business for us to be dropping our heads’,” McCarthy said.

“I told them (during halftime) that there’s 100s of free agents that are dying for the opportunity, and if they feel they can’t compete (then we’ll bring them in).

“If you want to be in the top four, three, two, or want to win the bloody league, you’ve got to compete, because nobody would hand it to you.”

Following their impressive exploits this season, it was not a doubt that the Citizens had the quality to match the Clever Boys.

After all, these are two teams that are vying for the Premiership title – the Citizens are fourth on the log, while the Clever Boys are third, with eight games to play.

McCarthy believes what made them click late is that the majority of their players always need an extra push to work hard, as talent alone is never enough.

“South African players have a mentality of thinking that talent beats hard work,” he said.

“I have to constantly remind them that in order to put your talent on show, you have to work hard. I think that’s what we did, and in the second half, the quality started to come out.”

That second half response from the Citizens also injected some momentum into Erasmus’ impressive run of form, as he scored his second goal in as many matches.

Following stints abroad, Erasmus returned to the PSL via the Cape-based club in the hope of reviving the sizzling performances that once came to light during his stints with SuperSport United and Orlando Pirates – subsequently earning him a Bafana spot.

With the crucial Afcon qualifiers against Libya coming up, McCarthy, who’s the all-time leading goal-scorer for Bafana Bafana with 31, is convinced that if the 28-year-old striker continues with his impressive run of form in the next two league matches, national coach Stuart Baxter might be forced to rope him in.

“He’s got a hunger for goals, and I told him that every time he gets a sniff in the box, he’s got to be greedy,” he explained.

“Imagine having this front three for Bafana – Erasmus, Lebo Mothiba and Percy Tau, frightening. It’s a work in progress, though, but Afcon is the intention.”

Meanwhile, the Citizens will be hoping to avenge Wednesday’s loss when they host Sundowns on Tuesday night at Cape Town Stadium (7.30pm kickoff).

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