A fairytale start to the coaching career of 2004 UEFA Champions League winner Benni McCarthy continued Sunday when his Cape Town City team reached the South African MTN8 final.
Cape Town came from behind to triumph 2-1 at title-holders Wits in the second leg of a semi-final and qualify 3-1 on aggregate to meet Super Sport United for the trophy. Both teams conceded own goals during the opening half in Johannesburg with Robyn Johannes giving Wits the lead and Egyptian Amr Gamal bringing Cape Town level.
Lehlohonolo Majoro, who has played for South African giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, got the winner 18 minutes from time at Bidvest Stadium. SuperSport are coached by Eric Tinkler, who quit City at the end of last season, opening the door for fellow former South Africa star McCarthy to get his first managerial position.
McCarthy was part of the Jose Mourinho-guided Porto team that became European champions by defeating Monaco 3-0 in the final. He also played for Ajax Amsterdam, Celta Vigo, Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United in Europe.
Under McCarthy, who scored a record 32 goals for South Africa in 80 internationals, Cape Town have won all five league and cup matches this season. Apart from reaching the MTN8 final, they co-lead the Premiership with Maritzburg United after two victories, one of them at defending champions Wits.
“It was ping-pong football at times,” McCarthy said of his third triumph over Wits. “We were a bit disorientated in the first half because Wits caught us out tactically. “The aerial bombardment we anticipated would occur from the kick-off failed to materialize until the second half.
“All credit to the players. Coaches have a role, but once the team run on the field it is up to them,” said 39-year-old McCarthy. Wits coach Gavin Hunt said: “I am disappointed because we failed to take many scoring chances and dominated Cape Town in the first half without leading at half-time.”
The MTN8 involves the top eight league finishers from the previous season and offers a winners-take-all eight million rand ($775,000/645,000 euros) prize.