Benni is City’s Zi­dane

I will work hard as a coach, just as I did as a player, says rookie McCarthy

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ROD­NEY REIN­ERS

BENNI McCarthy is con­fi­dent in his abil­ity to trans­fer his play­ing suc­cess to his coach­ing ca­reer. He has never been some­one who shirks a chal­lenge – so, when the Cape Town City of­fer came along, he thought about it briefly, then tack­led the op­por­tu­nity head on.

When City was es­tab­lished as a PSL club last June, owner John Comi­tis was vo­cal about his vi­sion of gal­vanis­ing foot­ball in the Mother City, and of his new club cap­tur­ing the imag­i­na­tion of the coun­try.

They did so last sea­son, win­ning the Telkom Knock­out and fin­ish­ing third on the PSL stand­ings, but when coach Eric Tin­kler left to join Su­perS­port United last week, Comi­tis was left with a a headache.So, in keep­ing with his no­tion of do­ing things big, he called up McCarthy. In­stead of re­cy­cling the old dead­wood coaches who per­form the an­nual merry-go-round in the PSL, Comi­tis opted to give the un­tried 39-year-old McCarthy his first job as a head coach.

“Benni’s his­tory is well-doc­u­mented,” said Comi­tis. “He graced the pitches all over Europe and he is back now where he be­longs. Here he can change the lives of Capeto­ni­ans. He is the right fit for City and I be­lieve he can take the team to the next level. Here he has an op­por­tu­nity to add to his legacy and build some­thing for the fu­ture.

“I spent 10 min­utes talk­ing to him and I could sense he un­der­stands the game and knows the flavour of the dress­ing-room. Like Real Madrid did in tak­ing a chance on for­mer star Zine­dine Zi­dane, so I think we can achieve with Benni at the helm.”

McCarthy can­not wait to get the job started.

“The Cape is where I started as a player and this is where I am start­ing my coach­ing ca­reer,” said the for­mer Bafana Bafana striker. “As a player I was am­bi­tious, I al­ways wanted to be suc­cess­ful; as a coach, I have the same at­ti­tude.

“There will of course be ques­tions. It’s my first time in charge, I’m in­ex­pe­ri­enced… But over the years, as a player, I’ve worked with many coaches and they all had to start some­where. Some­one had to take a chance on them… For ex­am­ple, when Ajax Am­s­ter­dam signed me when I was 17, they didn’t know what they were get­ting. It was a gam­ble, they didn’t know whether I would suc­ceed or not. So everybody has to start some­where and I have to thank City for giv­ing me this op­por­tu­nity.

“I will work hard, I don’t know any other way to do things. City have had a great sea­son and I just want to build on that. It’s my first op­por­tu­nity as a head coach and it’s in my home town. With the sup­port of everybody at City, I want to make Cape foot­ball alive again. I want us to com­pete with the big guns in the PSL.”

McCarthy ex­plained how the of­fer to coach City came about.

“I was at home back in Scot­land watch­ing the ten­nis at Roland Gar­ros when my phone rang,” he said. “I could see it was the chair­man (Comi­tis) and I knew, es­pe­cially af­ter read­ing that Eric (Tin­kler) was go­ing to Su­perS­port, what the call was about. But I thought about it ini­tially – I knew if I picked up the phone, my fiveyear plan with re­gard to my coach­ing li­cences and pick­ing up the nec­es­sary ex­pe­ri­ence would be out of the win­dow. But I de­cided to take a leap of faith, I an­swered…

“I’m al­ready work­ing on the steps I want to take, the things I want to do,” he said. “But most of all, as a coach, I want to help play­ers be­come bet­ter and I want them to achieve.”


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