CAPE TOWN – Benni McCarthy will be back in the “18-yard area” of his former home, Cape Town Stadium, this week when his in-form AmaZulu team face off against Cape Town City in the Dstv Premiership.
It’s the return of the prodigal son everyone has been waiting for since the enigmatic McCarthy parted ways with Cape Town City midway through last season.
Adding further spice to the encounter is that Bafana Bafana’s all-time leading marksman has been a revelation at Amazulu, where he has transformed the perennial relegation candidates into serious title challenges.
Usuthu are on a record-breaking run and arrived in Cape Town on Sunday already to prepare for this much-anticipated clash.
It is certainly shaping up to be titanic clash, particularly with the AmaZulu support staff boasting a very Capetonian flavor. Former City assistant coach Vasili Manousakis – father of former City mascot Mateo – followed McCarthy to Durban while another Cape legend Moeneeb Josephs will also be on the Usuthu bench.
There will certainly be no love lost on the touchline during the game, although the familiarity stretches on to the field too.
“There aren’t any easy games in this league and Wednesday won’t be any different. AmaZulu are on good form since coach Benni took over. They are playing great football. They have some players from our team so we know their qualities,” said City striker Fagrie Lakay.
The Citizens are currently enjoying a rich vein of form too, having won their last three matches on the bounce. They have also managed to rediscover their goalscoring touch, with City banging in eight goals in the past three matches against SuperSport United, Kaizer Chiefs and Tshakuma Tsha Madzivhandila.
The matches have come, though, in quick succession and Lakay admits the team is starting to feel a bit weary.
“It’s been a tough week for us physically, playing two games and traveling. Both games were very tough because of the amount of effort we put in to get good results. It’s going to be another tough game, especially since it will be our third game in seven days,” Lakay said.
Meanwhile, City coach Jan Olde Riekerink was satisfied that his team could regain their composure after the early disappointment of a early missed penalty in the weekend win over TTM.
“It was very obvious that TTM came for the one point, so it is always difficult to get the first goal, but we we get stronger and stronger in the first half. We get a penalty and we miss it and it was also a red card,” Olde Riekerink said.
“That, of course, affected the tension in our team because of the disappointment of missing the penalty because you work hard to create such a big opportunity.
“I tried to solve it halftime to put in a little more offensive midfielders, but in the process they create two half chances. But once we got back into the stable position where we can play, I think we were very good. I think last 20 minutes we showed we could play the way we can. It’s the third win in a row and next game is AmaZulu at home.”