Cape Town City’s appointment of Bafana Bafana legend Benni McCarthy as head coach could prove to be their most successful move to date, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
The Citizens have been the biggest movers and shakers in the Absa Premiership since their somewhat controversial takeover of Black Aces in 2016, punching above their weight in their debut season which saw them historically secure the Telkom Knockout trophy and a third place spot in the league, enabling them to compete in the CAF Confederation Cup next season.
Whether it be on the field of play, social media or the business of acquiring players, City have proven themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
The departure of coach Eric Tinkler to SuperSport United has no doubt been a blow to the Cape Town City fraternity as a whole, with his stint as coach symbolising their almost-near triumph in the league.
McCarthy can prove to be much more than a just coach to City. His cult status is amplified in his home town, I remember seeing him at Cape Town Stadium at the Cape Derby and at a point, I remember actually feeling sorry for him and his wife for the amount of fans who had interrupted his view of the game to ask him for a picture while the game was on.
The Citizens will no doubt benefit from the presence of South Africa’s only Champions League winner on their bench, they can expect more people to be flocking to the stadium in the new season, not to mention sponsorship’s possibly lining up wanting to be affiliated with the country’s most successful footballer.
Having had two years of learning at Scottish outfits Glasgow Celtic and Hibernian FC, coupled with a stint as assistant coach at Belgian top-flight club, Sint Truiden VV, detractors will cite the fact that McCarthy has never had any actual experience in the hotseat.
However, what the all-time Bafana Bafana top scorer lacks for in experience, he will surely provide in practical know-how to game situations
One look at McCarthy’s long list of achievements, and players and managers played under, you will realise that there is no other South African footballer that commands such respect from past and present players and managers – both locally and internationally.
The 39-year-old did not rest on his laurels after his playing days and took up his coaching badges. Having recently obtained his UEFA A coaching license, the former Porto man will be eager to show his mettle and kick start his managerial career.
While revealing his disappointment at the departure of Tinkler, City owner John Comitis elluded to a long-term project with the new coach at the helm, suggesting that Benni would be offered a long-term contract.
City’s maiden season success should not serve as a yardstick for McCarthy, that’s placing a great deal of uneccessary pressure on the fomer Porto man. Barring relegation from the top-flight, I do believe McCarthy needs time and patience if he is to implement and develop his football philosophy at City.
McCarthy’s first major assignment will be to bolster his squad in preparation for 2017-18 campaign which will see them embark on their journey under Benni, in the technical area.
With all due respect, Benni McCarthy is no Zinedane Zidane and nor is Cape Town City, Real Madrid, therefore it would be unrealistic to expect the professional footballer turned coach to secure silverware in his first season.