JOHANNESBURG: Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy praised his players for “never panicking” after they stormed into the MTN8 final on Sunday.
“I am over the moon for the players because of the hard work they put it. Wits are the (league) champions and every single team that is going to come to this stadium is going to struggle. We have come here now twice this season and we never panicked,” McCarthy said.
“We stuck to our game plan and limited them from playing to their strength. I take my hat off to the boys, who played Wits three times in about three weeks.”
The Mother City club made it five wins in a row on Sunday afternoon when, for the third time this season, they brushed Wits aside in a tactical game that was killed off by striker Lehlohonolo Majoro’s second-half strike to guarantee passage to the final of the MTN8 against SuperSport United, who beat Maritzburg United in the other semi-final on Saturday night at the Harry Gwala Stadium.
Wits, the reigning champions of both the MTN8 and the PSL, have endured a horror start to the new season and are yet to register their first win of the campaign. They’d thought it would come on Sunday against a City side that was without captain Lebogang Manyama for the first time after he joined Turkish Super Lig outfit Konyaspor last week, but still looked strong.
McCarthy doesn’t yet know what defeat tastes like since getting his first coaching job in top-flight football, and what probably makes it all the more sweeter is the fact that three of the five wins have come against Wits, coached by Gavin Hunt, who handed McCarthy his professional debut as a young footballer when he was in his teens.
City arrived at Bidvest Stadium holding a slender 1-0 advantage from the first leg that was played at the Cape Town Stadium just prior to the international break.
They quickly gave it up when Robyn Johannes stuck the ball into his own net following a goalmouth melee in the 12th minute. Wits skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo had claimed the goal after it looked like he had gotten a touch to push it over the line, but it was actually his counterpart Johannes who helped it over.
Determined to reach yet another final having won the Telkom Knockout in December last year, coincidentally against SuperSport United, City fought their way back into this encounter and forced an own goal from Wits striker Ahmed Gamal.
The Egyptian’s poor attempt at clearing the ball from a long Ayanda Patosi free kick sailed over goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs to draw the visitors level before halftime.
But the form book probably always favoured McCarthy and his men seeing that they are on a winning streak, while Hunt is struggling to get the Clever Boys going as they continue to suffer from a championship hangover.