CAPE TOWN - Benni McCarthy has impressed on his Cape Town City squad the need to be switched-on and vigilant throughout the 90 minutes when they tackle Wits in a MTN8 semi-final, second-leg tie in Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon (3pm kickoff).
The 39-year-old former Bafana Bafana striker has made a sensational start to his first stint as a head coach, steering the Cape side to four consecutive wins.
But, after many years of experience of playing the game at the highest level, he knows the danger of getting carried away.
Football can be a cruel, cruel game - just when you think it’s all smooth and hunky-dory, calamity sits calmly waiting around the next corner.
It is with the benefit of this understanding, built up during a successful decade on the European stage, that McCarthy is keeping his men grounded.
He doesn’t want them to believe that, in taking a 1-0 advantage from the first leg into the game, it’s all done and dusted.
In fact, City are braced for an all-out blitz from Wits.
The Clever Boys certainly have much to prove. They’ve had a rough start to the new campaign as coach Gavin Hunt beds the new signings into the squad.
Now, having already lost twice to City this season, Wits are determined to put one over the Capetonians.
Heading into Sunday’s crunch second-leg tie, only one word matters for McCarthy: attitude.
“This game is all about what we make of it,” said the City coach. “We will have to be focused - if not, then we are inviting trouble.
"I hope that the players are aware of it, and that we go into the game with the right mind-set and attitude. It’s going to be (a) battle, that’s for sure, and only the fittest will survive.
“We take a one-goal advantage into the game - but, if we want to come out on top, we will have to be 100 percent focused for 90 minutes, and we will need the determination, desire and drive.”
City’s formula for success is an open book - it’s the deployment of resolute defence and tactical discipline mixed with innovative offence and shrewd game management.
While it’s easy knowing how the Cape side plays, it’s sometimes difficult to find a way to break them down. And that is the challenge for Hunt and his Wits side on Sunday.
As far as McCarthy is concerned, he’s not losing any sleep going into the match. In fact, he believes the pressure is all on Wits.
“It’s another incredibly tough game for us,” said McCarthy. “We go to Wits, we’ve beaten them twice already, in the league and the Cup. But we know, in the Cup, it’s only the first half gone, this is the second half now.
"And we know Gavin Hunt’s mentality. He will have his men psyched up for this game. They are at home and they will be looking to finish us off.
“But they also know they have to be careful with us. They know what we possess, they know what we can do, and they know that we can beat them. So it won’t be that easy for them.”