JOHANNESBURG – Forgive Benni McCarthy for getting ahead of himself and thinking coaching is easy – the Cape Town City mentor is simply riding the wave.
The Mother City club made it five wins in a row here on Sunday afternoon when, for the third time this season, they brushed Bidvest Wits aside in a tactical game to win 2-1 on the day and 3-1 on aggregate to advance to the MTN8 final.
The match was killed off by striker Lehlohonolo Majoro’s second-half goal to guarantee passage to the final 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 Absa Premiership, 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 here against a City side without captain Lebogang Manyama for the first time after he joined Turkish Super League 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 this venue 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 in his own net following a goalmouth mêlée in the 12th minute.
Wits skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo had claimed the goal after it looked like he’d gotten a touch to push it over the line, but it was actually his opposite number Johannes who’d helped it over.
Determined to reach yet another final – having won the Telkom Knockout in December last year, coincidentally against SuperSport – 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.
Wits dominated in patches, particularly when young Kodisang Kobamelo had the ball and made himself a nuisance to the City defenders.
But City took their chances when they came, like Majoro creating an opportunity to score out of nothing to put the game to bed and all but confirm that McCarthy would be in his first cup final as coach.
You can’t blame the 2004 European Champions League winner for getting a little bit cocky.