CAPE TOWN - Benni McCarthy declared himself satisfied with Cape Town City’s performance in a 1-0 MTN8 semi-final firstleg victory over Mamelodi Sundowns at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
The second leg is scheduled for Atteridgeville on Sunday - but the City coach won’t be able to focus on that right now: first up, he and his team have to negotiate the arduous trip to Bethlehem to face Free State Stars in a PSL fixture on Wednesday (7.30pm kickoff).
While City will have a one-goal advantage going into the second leg against Sundowns, they have a difficult midweek game and that can only add to the pressure. McCarthy is aware of the challenge of a demanding week, which is why he is likely to tweak his starting team against Stars.
“When you play Free State Stars away, you have to go through the ugly travel,” said McCarthy. “It’s not pleasant. We have to fly to Johannesburg and then a five-hour bus trip to get to Bethlehem. It’s probably the main reason why not many Cape teams win at Free State Stars.
“But coming off a high (the win over Sundowns) we will treat Stars as another Cup final. The three points on offer is our bread and butter - we have to make sure that we stay in touch with the high-fliers in the PSL, like Bloem Celtic and Wits. I will freshen the team up and make some changes; not too many changes, though, because I don’t want to disrupt the continuity of the team.”
As for the victory against the Brazilians, McCarthy wasn’t only happy with the performance of his team, but also with the quality of the football produced by both teams. “For the people who paid their money to see two good footballing teams in action, they got their money’s worth,” said the City coach.
“It was an exciting game. For us, I thought that tactically we only got it right in the second half. In the first half, we gave the ball away too much and we were fortunate to go in at halftime at 0-0. After that, in the second half, I thought we dictated the pace nicely; we applied pressure higher up. We were able to control things and play our football.
“I also asked the team to use our aerial strength because we have the best deliverer in the game in Ayanda Patosi. And we got the goal from a set-piece. But I have to congratulate the players for their mentality, effort and perseverance. In the end, we probably let Sundowns off the hook because we should really have punished them even more.”