City were pitted against the Absa Premiership leaders for their last eight showdown after overcoming Orlando Pirates in the previous last-16, as they seek cup glory after falling down the league standings off the back of many indifferent results in February.
The Brazilians, meanwhile, have had their lead at the top cut to just a point – albeit with a game in hand – as Pirates keep them on their toes, and this, along with their participation in the CAF Champions League, may come as an unwelcome distraction come Sunday. At least, this is what opposing coach McCarthy hopes.
“The Sundowns game is huge now,” he said.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity, as you’re just two games away from being in another final. It’s a chance to redeem ourselves, but yes, a very formidable opponent stands in our way – an opponent that’s easily as hungry for silverware, but we couldn’t have played them at a better time: they’ve shifted their attention to the CAF Champions League, and then with Pirates winning and reducing the deficit to just one point in the league, they know they have to win their league matches to stay ahead. So their priorities may have shifted more to the league than to the Nedbank Cup.”
Sundowns needed to come from behind to beat ABC Motsepe League side EC Bees in the previous round of the Ke Yona competition and, despite their strong squad, McCarthy – who later revealed his delight at having been drawn to play at home – feels his opponents can’t field their second-stringers against his men.
“If they reach the final, all focus will be on that game, but up until they get there, they’ll probably go with the same like you saw against EC Bees, where EC Bees had a tremendous chance to hit them,” he said. “But we ain’t EC bees … they’ll probably come with a stronger side.
“But I was just delighted when our name came out first – I didn’t really care who we faced. We’re at home and we not travelling.”
Kick-off at Cape Town Stadium is set for 15h00 on Sunday afternoon.