CAPE TOWN – Cape Town City have a break this week, which allows coach Benni McCarthy an opportunity to reflect on his team’s continued profligacy in front of goal - and, importantly, to find a solution to the problem.
With three games to go to the end of the PSL season, City are in sixth position on the league standings, with 36 points, and still have to play Polokwane City (away), Orlando Pirates (home) and AmaZulu (away). McCarthy wants to finish as high as possible in his debut season as a coach, so he will be urging his players to end the campaign on a high.
On Saturday night, City produced yet another toothless display in attack in a 0-0 draw with SuperSport United at the Cape Town Stadium. But, not just that, it was the lethargy and absence of desire of the performance that left McCarthy extremely disappointed with his players.
“I thought the team played as if they were on holiday already,” said the former Bafana Bafana striker in charge of City. “With three games to go, they now have to stop thinking that it’s holiday time and start re-discovering themselves. Players have to understand that it is tough to get into a starting team, so when you get an opportunity you have to take it.
“The point is simply that we have to do more than just play good football. If you can’t put the ball into the back of the net, then you can’t win football games. Right now, I have a bazooka, but no bullets - and, at this crucial stage of the season, that is not good enough. The opposition will not just give you the game, you have to work for it.
“We just weren’t at the races against SuperSport. In fact, credit to SuperSport - they played Pirates on Wednesday, flew down to Cape Town for the game, and they still looked fresher than us.”
While McCarthy will be happy with the point, which keeps City in the race for a top four finish, he will certainly be hard at work at training this week. And his task won’t be physical - he won’t be running his team ragged all over the Hartleyvale training pitch - instead his challenge is mental, in that he has to get inside the heads of his players in order for more composure and belief to their work inside the box.
On the plus side for City, though, amid all the gloom of yet another disappointing home result, was the performance of rising star Craig Martin. The speedy 24-year-old was again named as man of the match on Saturday - he was also the best player in last week’s 1-1 draw with Maritzburg United - and he continues to make huge strides in his rookie season in the PSL.
This week’s fixtures:
Tuesday: Mamelodi Sundowns v Golden Arrows
Sunday: Bidvest Wits v Polokwane City
Nedbank Cup semi-finals
Saturday: Kaizer Chiefs v Free State Stars
Sunday: Maritzburg United v Mamelodi Sundowns