CAPE TOWN – During his playing days, Benni McCarthy was South Africa’s most deadly goal-scorer.
However, on Saturday night, in a disappointing goalless draw with Golden Arrows at Cape Town Stadium, the Cape Town City coach could again just watch from the sidelines as his team squandered a few inviting scoring chances.
In the end, the Cape side had to be satisfied with a point.
Needless to say, McCarthy was unhappy because the issues that hampered the progress of City last season continued in earnest against Arrows on Saturday night. The coach knows there will have to be improvement this weekend when City host Mamelodi Sundowns in the first leg of the MTN8 semi-finals at Cape Town Stadium (3pm kickoff).
When McCarthy assessed his first season charge in May this year, he pointed to the team’s lack of composure in front of goal as a key weakness. If the Cape side is to be among the challengers in the PSL, then it will have to start to convert possession and opportunities into goals on a more consistent basis.
“It was frustrating.” said McCarthy. “As a team, we keep the ball well, we move it around nicely, but fail to put the ball into the back of the net. And, yet, before the game against Arrows, I was confident that we could get the three points; the way the players had been finishing at training, I thought we were ready. So I’m disappointed with the lack of composure in key areas of our game.
“To be honest, we let Arrows off the hook. I think that game was one of the easiest three points for us. As such, in reflection, the draw is definitely a case of two points dropped. Arrows came to sit back, frustrate, and try to catch us on the counter - and their game plan worked.”
City haven’t had the best of luck with injury during this early stage of the season and they were again dealt a blow when winger Surprise Ralani, in gaining possession of the ball in the 60th minute, simply stopped as he broke down without even being tackled. The unexpected injury also created a problem for McCarthy with regards to his tactics for the rest of the game.
“When a player stops by himself without an opponent close by, then you know it’s probably something serious,” said McCarthy about Ralani’s injury. “We’ll let the medical staff deal with it and assess his progress in the week.
“But, with Surprise having to come off, I had to change my thinking. He was replaced by Riyaad Norodien. There was perhaps an opportunity to bring on Teko (Modise) to slow things down, but, with Arrows’ counter-attack approach, I banked on the speed of Norodien and Craig Martin. But we’ve got Sundowns this week, and we have the opportunity to mix things up, and Teko will be in the mix for selection.”
As for Sundowns on Saturday, McCarthy is aware of the challenge.
“The players will get a bit of a rest and we’ll re-group on Tuesday morning. There will only be one thing on the agenda at training this week: we will focus on finishing and our attacking, forward play. We are missing that calmness and composure in front of goal,” said the City coach.