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How coach Benni McCarthy fared in first Cape Town City test against Polokwane City in MTN8

Posted: 14 August 2017 Time: 09:52

Benni McCarthy started his Cape Town City reign with a 1-0 win over Polokwane City in the MTN8. takes a closer look at how the Bafana Bafana legend fared in his first outing as a head coach.

REPORT: Benni bags first win with Citizens

Starting line-up: Walters, Edmilson, Johannes, Gumede, Mkhize, Putsche, Nodada, Manyama, Lakay, Masina, Majoro.

McCarthy picked an experienced and defensively sound team that perhaps would have offered more creativity had fate not intervened at the expense of new signing Teko Modise.

Playmaker Modise pulled up with a groin problem in the warm-up, prompting McCarthy to instead deploy the industrious Thabo Nodada in central midfield alongside Roland Putsche. Debutant Lyle Lakay operated on the left, while Sibusiso Masina was out on the right. McCarthy was notably without influential attackers Aubrey Ngoma and Judas Moseamedi through injury.   

The rearguard was little changed from last season: Shu-Aib Walters manned the posts behind Robyn Johannes and Tshepo Gumede, with Thamsanqa Mkhize at right-back and Edmilson Dove getting a rare chance on the opposite flank following Thato Mokeke's return to SuperSport United.

Former Orlando Pirates striker Lehlohonolo Majoro led the line with support from 2016/17 PSL Player of the Season Lebogang Manyama.

Substitutions: McCarthy made his first sub in the 66th minute, bringing on marquee recruit Ayanda Patosi for the tiring Masina, who ran hard at the Rise and Shine defence in the first stanza. Patosi swapped flanks with Lakay and nearly made an immediate impact on his PSL bow as he fired a dipping effort narrowly over moments after coming on. The Bafana international, who spent the past six years in Belgium, continued to impress in the final third.

McCarthy's second adjustment saw Mpho Matsi, a regular starter in midfield last term, come on for striker Majoro in the 82nd minute presumably to help protect the narrow lead in the closing stages. 'Major' endured a frustrating afternoon, having gotten into great positions with his intelligent runs but the finishing touch proved elusive.

McCarthy brought on Ebrahim Seedat for the impressive Manyama in the 90th minute to run down the clock. Seedat went to the left wing, Patosi took up a central role alongside Putsche as Nodada headed up front.

Tactics: McCarthy wants his team to play football while pressing the opposition when not in possession, while his predecessor Eric Tinkler is perhaps more conservative and reliant on the swift counter. The unavailability of Ngoma and Moseamedi, and late withdrawal of Modise in particular affected McCarthy's strategy on the day. 'The Navigator' was expected to put his foot on the ball in the engine room and be a chief source of supply for Manyama and Majoro among others. Nevertheless Nodada put in a strong shift next to Man of the Match Putsche and numerous chances were created, one of which came via a training ground move but Manyama slipped at the crucial moment.

Polokwane typically initiate attacks through their two holding midfielders, with Jabu Maluleke in particular looking dangerous when dropping deep to collect. Nodada was instructed to push up to better police the situation and try limit the balls coming in behind the defence for Puleng Tlolane and Rodney Ramagalela. While Walters had to be sharp at times to deny the Rise and Shine frontmen, defensively the Citizens looked solid and organised given it was their first game of the season, and the players worked hard for the new boss.

Touchline attire: McCarthy wore a tracksuit for the warm-up but was suited up for 'show time'.

Touchline demeanour: McCarthy, a UEFA Champions League winner and Bafana's record marksman, admitted in the lead up to the season opener he was feeling the nerves. The 39-year-old looked calm as the match kicked off but grew increasingly animated as goalscoring opportunities went abegging. He seldom took his seat, save for quick consultations with his assistant Ian Tayor, and his emotions were on show, as evidenced when he had words with the fourth official and kicked the dugout in the 56th minute when Tlolane nearly scored an equaliser. However, he is nowhere near the levels of a manic Mushin Ertugral, and still engaged with fans, brushed off a disallowed goal for offside, and offered a wry smile when Sibusiso Mbonani's own goal went in. He also implored sections of the crowd to get off Majoro's back when they started calling for his substitution. At the final whistle there were no wild celebrations but he was clearly happy and relieved. He congratulated his players, shook hands with counterpart Bernard Molekwa and performed media obligations inbetween chatting with supporters.    

Rating: 7/10. Solid debut for the Mother City fan-favourite, who next faces a daunting trip to Premiership champions Bidvest Wits on Friday.

READ: Benni sweating over Teko for Wits clash

Article by: KICK OFF
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