The teams are getting tougher but Benni McCarthy’s AmaZulu are getting stronger
DURBAN - AmaZulu might be on course to achieve their target of finishing in the top four after climbing to the third spot on Sunday, but coach Benni McCarthy is not getting carried away just yet, suggesting that they’ll take each game as it comes.
It’s been a great second half of the season for the Durban-based side. They’ve won their last five matches as they amassed 37 points, three behind log leaders and champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who have two games in hand.
Usuthu's recent victory came at the expense of struggling Black Leopards at the Thohoyandou Stadium - thanks to a solitary strike from Siyethemba Sithebe. McCarthy was pleased with the clean sheet, giving credit to goalkeeper Veli Mothwa.
“Another game, and another superb performance from Veli and his defence,” McCarthy said.
“The defence also played a sterling role in ensuring that he got another clean sheet. I think it’s four clean sheets in a row if I am not mistaken.”
The Bafana Bafana all-time top goal scorer added: “As a coach, you can only praise the players for the gallant performance and the tenacity. For us to come to a ground like this and get three points is something that you cannot take for granted at all.”
Usuthu are in action again this Friday. They’ll visit Stellenbosch FC at the Danie Craven Stadium.
McCarthy, though, is aware of the threat posed by Stellies, who are in the bottom half of the standings and hungry for points in their last nine matches of the season in a bid of keeping their hopes of finishing in the top eight in the DStv Premiership alive.
“We’ll go back to training and try to get ourselves back to the level that we know that we should be,” the 43-year-old McCarthy said. “We’ll then face Stellenbosch. They are another difficult opponent. They also want to climb up the table”
McCarthy added: “The games are only getting tougher for us but if we keep on grinding out performances like we did today then I believe we are heading in the right direction and we’ll be able to reach our targets at the end of the season.”
McCarthy is a renowned players’ coach and a believer of second chances.
This past week he bolstered his squad with Thabo Qalinge, who made his Usuthu debut against Leopards. Qalinge was released by SuperSport United at the end of last season.
His contract with SuperSport had expired and not renewed after he had spent more time in the medical room than on the pitch.
At Orlando Pirates, he suffered the same fate as recurring injuries hampered his progress as an attacking midfielder.
“If you sign a player, you sign him based on his qualities and what he can contribute to the team. Obviously since ‘Section 10’ has come in, he has impressed and he has got better and better with each training section,” McCarthy said.
“It was just a matter of time where we looked to slot him in and hopefully he can add the quality that we’ve seen at training and weeks before he signed. I think he’s done well. We have to take it step by step.”