City have qualified for their second successive MTN8 final and will face last year’s rivals SuperSport United once again at the Moses Mabhida Stadium later this month.
Before then, however, they face two Absa Premiership meetings against the biggest two teams in the country – as far as supporters are concerned – Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
McCarthy is well aware of the dangers of thinking too far ahead, having been a player himself just a few years ago, but takes delight in the fact that the two games before the final are against teams his players will need no pep-talk for.
“It is important, but it’s also very difficult because, for me, I focus game to game and I try and impose the same mode on my players as well,” said McCarthy.
“But you know when you reach a final and it’s around the corner, players start saying, ‘I need to save myself, I can’t miss that’, so they don’t really go in these kinds of games 100 percent.
“They go in half-hearted, thinking, ‘If I get injured, I miss this and I don’t get my bonus’ and all these things, but that’s the way the mind works and these guys are all young so none of them want to miss [the final].
“In a way, it’s a bit fortunate that we play Chiefs and then we play Pirates, so it’s games for which they want to be psyched up, and games they all want to be involved in. So I think they can put playing in a final in the back of their minds with the six points up for grabs.”
The former Orlando Pirates striker is relishing the showdown with Amakhosi, who he has yet to beat as a coach, given their winless league run under Giovanni Solinas so far this season.
“We’re on a good run and we face a dragon that’s been wounded a little bit – Chiefs’ run hasn’t been the greatest, so they’re wounded,” he added.
“So if we can capitalise on that then it would be perfect preparation for getting ready for the final. But, for me, I’m 100 percent focused and switched on for Saturday’s game, more than any other game.”