Will McCarthy and City live up to the hype when the season starts?
THE anticipation is building. After a sensational debut campaign last season, Cape Town City get the new season under way with an MTN8 quarter-final tie against Polokwane City at the Cape Town Stadium next Saturday afternoon.
The expectation is mounting. With Benni McCarthy, one of the Mother City’s most revered sporting sons, installed as the new man in charge of City, there is frantic interest in just how he will go in his first stint as a head coach.
By next week, as the days tick down to City’s opening fixture, it will have reached a crescendo. By match day, at the ground, in that iconic former World Cup venue in Green Point, on television, on radio, on social media, in the streets and pubs and shebeens, it will be all about City and McCarthy. In essence, what everybody will want to know next Saturday is: How are City doing with McCarthy as coach?
Because this buzz of football animation is not just about the new, vibrant Cape football club – it’s also, importantly, about McCarthy, the kid who fought his way out of Hanover Park, with only his talent as a weapon, to grace the football fields of the world with panache and triumph. A winner of the European Champions League, the alltime leading Bafana Bafana goalscorer, McCarthy has become a cult figure in South African sport. So, next week, as City’s opening game consumes the country, the question everyone wants answered is whether his coaching career can emulate his playing success.
McCarthy, make no mistake, is fully aware of football supporters’ absorption as he make his official debut as a head coach; and he’s just as aware of the need to get City up and running right from the opening fixture.
“We’ve been working towards this moment, where we’ll have the opportunity to play our first competitive match,” said McCarthy. “This is what we’ve been waiting for … It’s the only way to gauge whether or not we are ready. I’m happy that we have the fixture finalised and now we can put our focus fully on this match against Polokwane.
“The boys have done well. Since the very first day, we’ve been training with unbelievable intensity and to see the players step up another gear has been a great feeling. The guys who we have brought in are also playing their part to lift the team, so overall we are looking pretty good. More hard work is still to come. We’ve got to put our final preparations into training in the next week.”