Benni McCarthy reacts during Saturday MTN8 defeat to SuperSport United. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

DURBAN - Inexperience was a critical factor in Cape Town City’s failure to press home their advantage when they lost the MTN 8 final to SuperSport United despite taking the lead and enjoying a man advantage for almost 40 minutes in Durban at the weekend.

Inexperience in terms of finishing off opponents when they are at your mercy, inexperience when it comes to handling gamesmanship, as well as technical inexperience were some of City’s shortcomings, conceded the Cape side’s coach Benni McCarthy after their penalty shoot-out disappointment against SuperSport at Moses Mabhida Stadium Saturday night.

While he hailed the contest a “fantastic match” and was gracious in defeat the rookie coach believed they had the measure of their opponents, whose greater experience made the difference in the 4-2 penalties decider after regulation time and extra time ended 1-1.

“SuperSport are a very experienced and organised team but I felt we had them covered from the first to 90th minute and extra time. Unfortunately our finishing let us down and we let them off the hook. When you don’t take your opportunities to punish experienced teams (you suffer),” said McCarthy, who was also aggrieved that they were denied a penalty before SuperSport’s equaliser from Thuso Phala.

The Cape side led from midway through the first half via Sibusiso Masina’s low drive past goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, who later turned hero for SuperSport with two blocks during the spot kicks.

“I’m not sure if it’s anxiety or panic or excitement in the moment that they don’t put the ball in the back of the net. When you have someone on the ropes you must go for the jugular. No matter how much you stress it to your players, it’s a South African problem where no team I’ve seen has that killer instinct. And because of that we paid the ultimate price.”

He also lamented that they allowed SuperSport to slow the game down and failed to engage the referee during those moments. McCarthy further conceded that he was at fault for not sending on Ayanda Patosi instead of Roland Putsche to give the team a creative spark.

“As a coach that’s one of the faults you’ve got to take. I took Teko (Modise) off where I should have brought Patosi and there I accept maybe inexperience kicked in, or the excitement of being close to 90 minutes, and not making the right substitution,” admitted McCarthy.

He viewed it as an opportunity to learn from and looked forward to returning stronger.

His counterpart, Eric Tinkler, lauded his charges for displaying “great character, great resilience and determination” to stay in the game through extra time with 10 men, and was already looking ahead to bigger battles on the continent. They go to Tunisia for a second leg semi-final match against Club Africain in the CAF Confederation Cup this weekend looking to overturn the first leg 2-2 draw.

“For me to start at Supersport with an MTN8 win is a fantastic start, but I’m the type of person who wants more. I’ve explained to the players that winning trophies must become an addiction, so hopefully we can go there and get a result to get into the final,” Tinkler said.

The Mercury

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