Goals from Victor Obinna and Judas Moseamedi ensured McCarthy ended his first derby as coach with the three points, yet the former Bafana Bafana icon almost let the emotions get the better of him in various instances during the game.
In one such incident, Ajax’s Isaac Nhlapo hacked down substitute Teko Modise in front of the City technical area, leading to a heated exchange as McCarthy stormed on to the pitch to square off against the defender, an action he later admitted was not a good example for his team and those watching.
“There were a couple of nasty incidents where I think I also over-reacted a bit,” McCarthy said at the post-match press conference. “But I’m one of those guys … I always say a team is a reflection of its manager. I’m a passionate guy from Cape Town, and if people want to bully my players, I’m the first one to stand up for them. That was one of the situations where, as a coach, you’ve got to deal with it a little bit better, but it just shows the passion that I have for my players and for the team.”
McCarthy says his reaction was fuelled by the fact that Modise, who had just returned from injury, was the one being targeted.
“It was just the emotions of the game – sometimes it happens,” he said. “I was concerned, as we had worked so hard to get Teko back, and we know he is agile and has trickery, so for players to come in and think they can use his as a kicking bag, I took it a very badly. In the heat of the moment it happens, but I should have been the better person in that incident.
“But I was just concerned about my player as he had just come back from injury and I know how hard he had worked to get back on the pitch, and for someone to just snap at him out of anger, and risk him not playing in the upcoming MTN8 final would mean I would be stuck with a problem of losing a key player, so that is why I reacted the way I did.”
Having been very vocal about the match officiating in recent games, McCarthy says he was happy with referee Thando Ndzandzeka, but admits his side did get away with a certain call.
“I think Ajax had a penalty shout – from where I was sitting looked like a clear-cut penalty, but sometimes the officials get it right, and sometimes they get it wrong,” he said. “But I think the referee overall had a fair game, so they’re getting better. He handled some incidents very professionally, and that’s all we ask for. So when they do well, we have to give them credit as well, not only wait for them to make mistakes so we can criticise. I commend the referee today, but we did get away with a penalty.”
The victory leaves Cape Town City third in the Absa Premiership standings, three points behind surprise leaders Baroka FC with a game in hand.