Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy trying to keep emotions in check for MTN8 final
Posted: 12 October 2017 Time: 19:45
Nineteen years ago, Benni McCarthy featured in his first major cup final as a player, and hopes the result of that day will replicate itself in Saturday’s MTN8 showdown with SuperSport United.
The date was 17 May 1998, as 20-year-old McCarthy, in his first season at Ajax Amsterdam, sat on the bench as the Dutch giants faced off against PSV for the 1997/98 KNVB Cup final. Ajax, who won the league that year too, were far superior, winning the final 5-0 with the young McCarthy brought on for a cameo in the 87th minute for Georgian forward Shota Arveladze.
Now preparing for his first final as a head coach, McCarthy admits overthinking about it makes him nervous, but wishes his first final as a manager will end the same way as it did as a player.
“I definitely won’t be coming in as a late substitute, that’s for sure!” he said when asked about his debut final 19 years ago. “It was unbelievable, leaving South Africa and getting a chance to go to Europe, and in my first season winning a league and cup against a strong PSV side which we annihilated – that was incredible.
“So hopefully – I’m not saying this will be the same affect – it would be nice if it could be as smooth as 19 years ago. But yes, it’s nerve-wracking, and only when I think about it, I get nervous.
“So that’s why I try not to think about football too much, but try think about other things – the more I don’t think about the game, the more I don’t need the toilet!”
McCarthy feels this week’s preparations have been going well for the Citizens, helped by the fact that last year’s Telkom Knockout final gave the majority of the squad a taste of what is expected ahead of such do-or-die encounters.
The former Bafana Bafana stalwart says his side aren’t feeling the nerves, but admits he might start feeling them closer to Saturday evening.
“The guys don’t seem too nervous, which should help come Saturday,” he said. “I’m not too nervous just yet, but I guess when it gets to Friday night it will probably hit me, but overall it’s a game of football: final or no final, we just want to continue what we are doing, play well, work as hard as we can and not make it easy for the opposition.
“And hopefully we can continue the good run we are on, and if we win, even better.”