CAPE TOWN - Benni McCarthy has a candid, categoric message for anybody who believes that the Cape Town City bubble has burst after three successive defeats: there’s no pressure, no panic and certainly no ringing of any alarm bells.
City are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they tackle an in-form Baroka FC in the opening round of the Telkom Knockout Cup at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane (kickoff 3.30pm). The Capetonians are the defending champions of the competition, which provides them with added incentive as they prepare for the arduous journey to Limpopo Province.
McCarthy, the Cape side’s coach, is not too concerned about his team’s recent form. In fact, he is confident City can turn things around against Baroka. Despite the three successive defeats, the former Bafana Bafana striker believes there is a bright, silver lining amidst the gloom.
“Yes, we come off the back of three disappointing defeats, but, you know, overall, I’m happy,” said McCarthy. “Look at the stats, look at the performances During our good run earlier in the season, we were winning but we weren’t playing our best football. Now, we are playing some fantastic football, but we aren’t getting the results.
“But this is a good squad of professionals and that is why I’m not too worried. There are no alarm bells. In this squad, we win together, and we lose together. We just have to get out of the hole we have dug for ourselves and I’m confident we can do so.”
McCarthy is aware that, in Baroka, they are up against a tough, tricky, opponent, but he is not putting any added pressure on the team.
“You have to understand that, in football, sometimes the situation doesn’t allow you to do what you want to - that’s just football.
“Sometimes the harder you try, the worse it gets. But I know that I have the right group of players to go to war with. Just one win, and we’ll get going again.
“I’m not a coach who criticises individuals in the team. As a former player, I know that players are their own biggest critics. They will analyse and criticise their own performances. So, after those defeats, I will leave it up to them. My job is just to make sure that we find ways to change our current situation, and to get the players to perform better.
“The main problem right now is that our concentration levels are letting us down during key moments in the game. But everyone in the squad wants to be part of a winning team, and they know that we have to turn things around soon. I trust every single member of the squad. They know their quality - I just think they need to believe in themselves and their quality a bit more.”
As for Baroka, McCarthy is approaching the game in the same way they did in their excellent first half against Chippa at the weekend.
The two teams are similar in style, in that they have an unstructured, unorthodox approach - but, as McCarthy says, City have proven they can combat it.
“You saw how we played in the first half against Chippa that we can deal with that style of play,” said McCarthy.
“We just have to do so for the entire match. Baroka, though, are high-flyers (current PSL log-leaders) and they have the mentality now that they can’t put a foot wrong.
“We have a tough fight on our hands, but we know that we have to turn it around. We are also the defending champions of this competition and we don’t want to go out in the first round.”