‘They don’t come bigger than Sundowns’

Last season’s Telkom Knockout champions have been handed a tough draw throughout the 2018 Nedbank Cup so far, but oversaw heavyweights Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates in previous rounds before being pitted against current log-leaders Masandawana.

“I wanted the experience of getting an Ubuntu FC, or EC Bees, but unfortunately I got all the big guns,” McCarthy said. “But it’s not a bad way to learn, better yourself and grow. I think this one will be the toughest of the three – no disrespect to the other two we faced in Wits and Pirates, who are both top-class teams.

But when you play the CAF Champions League winners and the team that’s leading the way in our league, it’s a difficult challenge, but also a nice motivation factor for the boys – when you play cups, you have to play the best teams. If you want to win trophies, you have to play the best, and the best way for us to do it is this way. Hopefully the boys can add to the good work they did against Pirates and hopefully we’ll have the same intensity, quality, spirit and willingness to want to win against the big boys.”

The City coach feels his charges are ready following the international break, and hopes home advantage will work in his side’s favour.

“It doesn’t get bigger than Sundowns, so it’ll be a very tough opponent for us,” he continued. “But I think home advantage always helps, where you don’t have to travel and you can prepare nicely, and are accustomed to the weather.

“We should be ready – players are well-rested and had a nice break, so now it’s back to do what we do best, and that’s playing football. It’s all building up nicely for a good encounter.”

McCarthy will have a fully-fit squad at his disposal, with only Lyle Lakay ruled out due to suspension.

Kick-off at Cape Town Stadium is set for 15h00.