CAPE TOWN - Benni McCarthy, fresh from a visit to English Premier League giants Manchester City last week, has come back to Cape Town energised and inspired.
Cape Town City host Orlando Pirates in a Nedbank Cup last 16 clash at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday night (7.30pm kickoff), with the exposure to football at a higher level providing McCarthy with fresh motivation as he continues the next phase of his career as a coach.
The 40-year-old former Bafana Bafana striker at the helm of City spent last week in Manchester as part of his Uefa Pro Licence course. He arrived back in the Mother City on Saturday and, in preparation for Pirates, has spent the last few days at training imparting the knowledge and information gained on his European sojourn.
“The visit was good because I got to see a different side of football,” said McCarthy. “I mean just to see the facilities at Man City, it was an unbelievable experience. It was just unfortunate that we didn’t get to see the first team train, to see the genius of Pep (Guardiola, Man City manager), but we saw how they work with the Under-21s.
"It was good to see how they apply themselves and now the challenge is to repeat what they do. And how can that not inspire you? Because the end game, as a coach, is to be in charge of such a big club, and even try to grow this club (City) into something big.
"When I came back, the players all wanted to know how it went, and how they go about things, so I gave them a Man City training session.”
McCarthy, a former Pirates player, is fully aware of the challenge that lies in store for City on Wednesday night. He also knows that each and every player in his squad wants to be part of the occasion. Unfortunately, as he readily admits, there will be those who miss out. But he’s nevertheless confident that, as a squad, everybody will be fully behind those chosen to play.
“Playing against Pirates, these are the big games players all dream of,” said McCarthy. “Everybody wants to be involved in the match. There will be a great atmosphere.
"Pirates are in good form and, after their win over Chiefs in the Soweto derby, this fixture is a great platform for the players. But this is a once-off, so anything can happen. I’d like to think that we are the underdogs, which means we can go into the game with ease and just play of our game with no pressure.
“For us, every Cup competition is an opportunity for silverware. We lost out in the MTN8 final and we were knocked out of the Telkom (Knockout), so this is a chance for us to redeem ourselves. We are using Ubuntu Cape Town’s run in the competition to inspire us - and, if we get past this stage, perhaps we’ll draw them for a great Cape derby."
McCarthy declared himself “95 percent” certain of his team selection for Wednesday's tie against the Buccaneers. There are just two issues he still needs to make a call on: the fitness of industrious midfielder Thabo Nodada; and he also has to decide whether this is the right time to blood Masoud Juma, the Kenyan striker signed by City during the January transfer window.