Benni McCarthy is welcomed by Cape Town City chairman John Comitis. Picture: Phando Jikelo/ANA Pictures
JOHANNESBURG - Gavin Hunt, the man who gave Benni McCarthy his professional debut when he was just 18, has argued that the recently appointed Cape Town City coach’s character will be put to the test when the chips are down in his new role.

Ahead of the 2017/18 season next month, in which Hunt will attempt to help his side Bidvest Wits defend their Absa Premiership title and also come up against McCarthy for the first time, the Clever Boys coach also urged City chairman John Comitis to give the former Bafana Bafana striker time to find his feet as he learns the ropes in his transformation from ex-player to coach.

“Benni has got great insight. Nobody has done what he has done from a playing perspective,” Hunt said. “This is a great opportunity for him, and John must be commended for that. But how he does is not when the team is playing well or winning, it’s when the team is not doing so well. 

"That is the difference. I think he has got all the attributes and he is a strong-minded boy. He will be fine tactically because he knows the game. You obviously need to know the local market, but John will help him there. It’s a good appointment, something fresh and nice.”

Comitis opted for McCarthy, 39, over veterans Ruud Krol, who won the treble with Orlando Pirates six years ago, as well as former Kaizer Chiefs and Pirates coach Muhsin Ertugral.

With that decision he’s invited the skeptics to reason that the job might be too big for McCarthy, especially considering City’s third place finish and Telkom Knockout success last season under Eric Tinkler.

“I don’t think so,” said Hunt as he reacted to those doubting McCarthy as a good fit for the Mother City club. “He is a big personality with a great profile, which can also turn against you. But I think they will give him time, which is important.

"When you are a top player like he was and you start at the bottom you need to come out the other end. He will be fine."

Hunt also argued against the notion that 'Benni should have started at a smaller club'.

"People don’t want to start by going to winning teams, why not? They have a great structure there, a good team and they had a good season. Let’s see if Benni can improve that.

"Why be scared? I hear what the skeptics are saying, I mean I did three years in the first division, earning my stripes. Benni's got a great opportunity and I wish him all the best. I think City will give him the support.”

Hunt said his door was always open for McCarthy to pick his brain on anything.

“We have spoken a lot since his appointment because we have been doing TV work together (as pundits on SuperSport during the Fifa Confederations Cup) and we sit there for hours talking,” the Wits coach revealed. “He knows he can pick up the phone and ask me anything, whether it is to bounce things off me or chat about a player in the local league they are trying to get, whatever the situation.

"The hard thing is the day-to-day stuff, not the matches because that is the easy part . But that’s all for learning, he has great experience and has played at the highest level with great coaches. I am sure he can take a lot out of that and build from there.

"The thing is that if you were a great player, like he was, have you got the patience to work at a level much lower than what you were used to? That is the secret.”

The Star

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter