With only two wins out of their last 18 games, Benni McCarthy was always in the firing line. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – Benni McCarthy's axing as head coach of Cape Town City was always on the cards after his team had only won two out of their last 18 games.

Yesterday, City axed McCarthy, issuing a terse statement after midnight, as well as putting a media clampdown on the team.

The Citizens’ solitary success from nine PSL outings this season was a hard-fought 1-0 derby victory over top-flight rookies Stellenbosch FC 1-0 in August.

Back-to-back league defeats to AmaZulu - who were winless at the time - and Maritzburg United at home last time out, as well as first-round exits in the MTN8 - where they were the defending champions - and the Telkom Knockout led to the club terminating his services with immediate effect.

McCarthy, South Africa’s all-time top scorer and only Uefa Champions League winner, joined City ahead of the 2017-18 season on a three-year deal and in his first season City ended fifth in the league, while also reaching the MTN8 final, where they lost on penalties to SuperSport United. He exacted revenge on SuperSport the following year when City won the MTN8 and finished fourth in the league after threatening at one stage to win the title.

This season he believed he had been handed his strongest squad yet and that a tilt at the league title was on the cards. But injuries to key players and a constant leaky defence seems to have put paid to those hopes.

While City were playing smart football, they weren’t able to sustain it for the full 90 minutes, resulting in a near three-month winless run. McCarthy did say he felt his days were numbered, that if departing the scene was the way to go to changing the team’s fortunes, so be it, that it would be the right thing to do. And that’s now happened.

Club chairman John Comitis terminated McCarthy’s services after meeting him on Sunday. The players were then informed and it’s business as usual as the team prepare to face Polokwane City in a league match at Cape Town Stadium tomorrow (7.30pm kickoff).

Vasili Manousakis has been appointed caretaker coach. He served as McCarthy’s assistant for the past two seasons and took charge of the opening league game this season away to Baroka FC as McCarthy had to return to Scotland to be at his wife’s side for the birth of their first son.

The players spent last Wednesday and Thursday attending a team building camp in Durbanville and word has it that they are closer than ever and fired up to deliver a winning performance.

Mike de Bruyn


Cape Times

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