CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy has scored many goals in some of the best leagues in Europe. But, despite having performed with distinction all over the world, as a coach, he can do absolutely nothing when the team just cannot hit the back of the net.
His playing days as a goal-getter of note are over and, while he can instruct, show and inspire, when the whistle blows, it’s up to the players.
City’s interminable quest for goals continues when they host Chippa United in a PSL fixture at Athlone Stadium on Friday night (8pm kickoff) - and the big question is: Has McCarthy managed to permeate his players with a few pointers on how to find the back of the net.
McCarthy, one of South Africa’s most-gifted marksmen, has cut a frustrated figure on the touchlines as his team slumped to four consecutive defeats over the last few weeks. It’s not that they’ve played badly, it’s just that they’ve squandered so many scoring opportunities.
So what information does McCarthy need to impart? Based on his own experience, what knowledge can he offer his players? Well, he needs to impress on them that goal-scorers have attitude. They don’t think too much in the penalty area, they just do what comes naturally.
He has to stress to his men the importance of composure: steady, focus on what needs to be done, and stick the ball where you want it to go; don’t snatch at it, don’t rush and, above all, trust your instincts. He also has to infuse them with confidence - this is the key to scoring.
Goals are missed by players all over the world, but the critical thing is to not let it bother you; don’t dwell on such misses, rather wait for the next opportunity and make the most of it. Importantly, don’t hide, accept the responsibility, and handle the scoring opening with confidence.
Because the big problem at City right now, with their current scoring crisis, is that everybody is afraid of the ball in the penalty area. Nobody wants to miss, nobody wants to grab the initiative and so, when players are forced into a scoring situation, they rush, snatch, fumble, and then, needless to say, they miss.
A few weeks ago, City were firmly in the race for the league title. After four losses on the trot - Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs, Wits and Baroka FC - they are now fighting just to stay in a top-eight position. McCarthy will be desperate to get his team back on track when they face Chippa - but, in order to do so, they’ll need to bring a more decisive cutting edge to their finishing.
Captain and central defender Robyn Johannes has watched his teammates flounder in front of goal, consistently squandering their scoring chances, and he has been just as frustrated as his coach. He is hoping for a change in fortune on Friday night.
“It’s another difficult game for us,” said Johannes. “Chippa’s never an easy team to play against. They are a good footballing team. We’ve been really unlucky lately, but we have to keep believing in our quality as a group and make sure we turn around this bad run we find ourselves in. It’s our home game and we have to give our all, as we always do, to ensure that we get maximum points.”