A Taariq Fielies volley proved the difference between the two sides, in a match where both teams had chances in front of goal, with the Citizens coach insisting the final score didn’t truly reveal the nature of the game.
“For the people who paid their money to see two good footballing teams in action, they got their money’s worth, even though the 1-0 scoreline might not reflect that,” he said.
“Tactically we got it right in the second half. We were much better and played how we should have started the game.
“We were fortunate to go into the half-time break at 0-0, and told the players to dictate and control the game in the second half.
“As much as they are Sundowns players and are the best players we have got in the country‚ if we applied more pressure higher up the pitch against [Motjeka] Madisha and [Mosa] Lebusa, who hadn’t played much as a pair‚ then we’d start controlling things and play our football.
“I also asked the team to use our aerial strength because we have the best deliverer in the game in Ayanda Patosi, who was doing what we asked of him, putting the ball in to dangerous areas.”
McCarthy feels his side could have punished their opponents even more than they did, but was pleased with their efforts as they take a slender lead to Pretoria.
“The okes just didn’t have that willingness to get hurt at times‚ to put the ball in the back of the net,” he continued. “But at least one of them paid off, and we managed to score from a set-piece, as we knew that was an area where we could hurt them.
“I still feel like we let them a little bit off the hook‚ but overall I am happy with the effort‚ the attitude‚ mentality and just the perseverance from the guys.
“We were able to score a goal and last weekend against Golden Arrows was such a frustration because we didn’t have one shot on target‚ but this week we could have really punished the best team in the league.
“We’ve given ourselves a 1-0 advantage, and we didn’t concede, which is superb.”
City must still negotiate a tricky away league fixture against Free State Stars before Sunday’s second leg at Lucas Moripe Stadium.
Kick-off is set for 15h00.