CAPE TOWN - Benni McCarthy has compared Cape Town City to “David” as his team prepares to take on the “Goliath” that is Kaizer Chiefs in an Absa Premiership fixture at the Cape Town Stadium tomorrow afternoon (kick-off 3pm).
In the Biblical tale, the young David slays Goliath the giant in combat - and the story has, in modern times, become symbolic of a challenge in which a smaller opponent comes up against a bigger adversary: in essence, new PSL club City against traditional giants Chiefs, the best supported and most popular football club in the PSL. McCarthy, though, is having none of it. He is confident that City, like David, can overcome.
“Chiefs have always been the biggest team in the country,” said McCarthy. “They may have good moments, they may have bad moments, but they will always have the majority of fans. So we are the ‘Davids’ when we play against Chiefs or Orlando Pirates. But that means that we are the giant slayers - we respect what Chiefs have achieved, and what they have done as a club, but we have 11 hungry warriors ready to go into battle. And, what’s more, if we keep winning games, we can try to turn Chiefs fans into City fans.”
For McCarthy, irrespective of who the opposition is, he doesn’t really change much. He has a coaching and playing philosophy he believes in - and that is what he sticks to. “At training, we always work on our strengths,” he said.
“When I arrived here, I could see that the players were technically very good on the ball. So what I’ve done is try to polish it, to work on it on a daily basis, and to make sure that we focus on the strengths of the team. That is why we are always playing from the back; we stay composed, we stay patient and, in doing so, we believe that, eventually, we will break teams down. It doesn’t matter which team we play, or who the opposition is, we will play the same way.”
Importantly, though, as McCarthy gears up for Chiefs, he stressed that his team needed to be more clinical in front of goal. “Our build-ups are good,” he said. “But we have to have an end-product - we need to score more goals. Because the challenge is that we have to finish off the opposition, which we aren’t doing consistently enough.”
While McCarthy has made a promising start to his fledgeling career as a football coach, he readily admits the reason behind his rapid progress is the space within which he is allowed to operate. He was quick to pay tribute to club chairman John Comitis for creating an environment in which a coach can flourish.
“It’s about knowing where you fit in,” said McCarthy. “When I came here, I knew I was coming to a club with ambition; I knew they wanted to achieve. And they were willing to take a risk with me as someone who had never coached before; they had faith in me.
“From my side, I was able to educate myself (McCarthy has a Uefa Pro Licence) and I was able to learn more about the job that I wanted to pursue after my playing career. I can assure you that the knowledge I gained has helped me a lot in many situations during my time at City.
“But the important thing is that the environment I am in here at City is good. Unlike other clubs, I don’t have a chairman who is on my back all the time. I am not in a position where the coach is under pressure 24/7.”