CAPE TOWN - Football may, in the words of Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy, “make grown men cry”, but it also offers the opportunity to just as quickly dry up the tears.
For City, after a traumatic, gut-wrenching defeat to SuperSport United in the MTN8 final, that opportunity is already on the horizon when they host Bloemfontein Celtic in a PSL fixture at Athlone Stadium on Tuesday night (7.30pm kickoff).
So there is no time for McCarthy’s men to dwell on any lingering sense of disappointment because the next challenge is already upon them. After losing on penalties to SuperSport, playing so soon is perhaps the best thing they need. Before despair can set in and play havoc with the emotions, City’s players now have to quickly move on and prepare for their next opponents.
There were certainly copious amounts of City tears on show after the defeat on Saturday. Now the challenge for McCarthy, in his new role as coach, is to wipe the tears away, lift the spirits, and get his team ready for an improving Celtic side tomorrow.
“Football makes grown men cry,” said McCarthy after Saturday’s loss in the Cup final. “Unfortunately things didn’t go our way; we had chances to kill off the game, but we were playing against an experienced side. But I can’t fault the team, they gave everything - it wasn’t to be, but now we just have to keep pushing because we’ve shown that we can compete against the top teams.”
Club boss John Comitis was as disappointed, saying: “You can’t control 120 minutes of a game and walk away with nothing. I thought we were not creative enough when we had them against the wall. Apart from the penalties, we had the better of them physically, and in terms of possession and fitness. I’m sad for the boys.”
Gutted but proud of the display of football @CapeTownCityFC laid out last night. Cruel game,this 😔
But for City, as a club, and for McCarthy, as a coach, this can all be stored in their growing reserves of experience. City are not even two years old, but have been in two Cup finals - they’ve won one and lost one, and have now felt the euphoria of victory and the pain of defeat. McCarthy, in his first final as a coach, will take the lessons learnt and he’ll be better prepared next time.
The Cape side certainly came out of the Cup final with heads held high. They contributed greatly to the occasion and, on the balance of play, they should perhaps have come out of it victorious. Unfortunately, though, they failed to take advantage of their opportunities, especially when SuperSport were reduced to 10-men 10 minutes before the end of normal play. And, for the next 40 minutes, including the extra-time period, the Capetonians tried and tried, but just couldn’t break down the brave, resolute Pretoria club.
If anything, for City and McCarthy, as they prepare for Celtic, the most important aspect to take from the Cup final is that they will have to show some vast improvement in attack if they want to be counted among the best in the PSL.
The other Mother City side, Ajax Cape Town, will be in action on Wednesday when they are in Bethlehem to take on Free State Stars.