JOHANNESBURG – Cape Town City’s Benni McCarthy is an astute player’s coach who would go to the moon and back in the defence of his troops – from bad officiating or career-threatening fouls.
But on Saturday night, his troops were at the receiving end of a tongue-lashing when they weren’t pulling their weight around which saw them trail Wits 2-0 leading up to halftime. In the second half, McCarthy’s tirade worked like a charm, as City gallantly fought their way back into the game to grab a 3-2 comeback win.
Kermit Erasmus, Riyaad Norodien and Surprise Ralani found the back of the net for City, while Wits got their goals from Thulani Hlatshwayo and Gift Motupa.
“We started slow, and I think that we had to adapt to the altitude. When we were two goals down, I saw heads drop but I had to (give it to) them as we are not in the business to be dropping our heads,” McCarthy said.
“I told them (during halftime) that there’s 100s of free agents who are dying for the opportunity, and if they feel they can’t compete (then we’ll bring them in). If you want to be in the top four, three, two, or want to win the bloody league, you’ve got to compete because nobody would hand it to you.”
Following their impressive exploits this season, it was never a doubt that City had the quality to match the Clever Boys. After all, these are two teams that are vying for the PSL championship – City are fourth on the league standings, while Wits are third, with eight games to play this season.
McCarthy believes what made City click in the second half on Saturday is that the majority of his players always need an extra push to work hard.
“South African players have a mentality of thinking that talent beats hard work,” he said. “I have to constantly remind them that in order to put your talent to the shot then you have to work hard. I think that’s what we did, and in the second half, the quality started to come out.”
That second-half response from City also injected some momentum into Erasmus’ impressive run of form as he grabbed a second successive goal on Saturday.
Following stints abroad, Erasmus returned to the PSL with City in December in the hopes of reviving the sizzling performances that once came to the fore during his stints with SuperSport United and Orlando Pirates. With a crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Libya coming up later this month, McCarthy is convinced that if the 28-year-old striker continues with his impressive run of form in the next two league matches, Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter might be forced to rope him back into the national team.
“Imagine having a front three for Bafana of Kermit Erasmus, Lebo Mothiba and Percy Tau, frightening. It’s a work in progress though, but Afcon is the intention,” McCarthy said.