New coach a good gamble

2017-06-28 06:01
Teboho Letshaba Social Observer

Teboho Letshaba Social Observer

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I have tried very hard to resist the temptation of commenting on Benedict Saul McCarthy’s appointment as head coach of Cape Town City – a team in the Premier Soccer League (PSL). But my efforts have been in vain.

Social media platforms have been awash with divided public comments on the gamble taken by City’s boss, John Comitis, in placing such a huge task on McCarthy’s shoulders.

Given the achievement by his predecessor, Eric Tinkler, to steer City to dizzy heights, expectations will be huge for McCarthy to hit the road running.

Still in its infancy and armed with meagre resources, Tinkler managed to guide City to Telkom Knockout glory and qualification for the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup after finishing third on the Absa Premiership log table.

In my opinion, “Benni” is likely to follow in the footsteps of respected local coaches such as Pitso Mosimane and Gavin Hunt.

Those with excellent football memories will recall that “Jingles” – as Mosimane is endearingly called – was another gamble taken by SuperSport United. Matsatsantsa a Pitori were going through a rough patch in October 2001, with notable humiliating defeats.

This led to Mosimane’s appointment – albeit on an interim basis. He replaced former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar, who was the head coach at the time.

With unproven coaching experience at professional level, Mosimane rewarded his paymasters. Under his tutelage, SuperSport finished the 2001-’02 season in second place – a mere five points behind Santos, who became the league champions. Today, Mosimane boasts two league title medals and a prestige CAF Champions League gold medal.

Even Tinkler started elsewhere. He has been walking in the shadow of Roger de Sa and only got the break when the latter left Orlando Pirates in January 2014. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

McCarthy is a student of the game. Although he is bereft of PSL coaching experience, he has already learnt the ins and outs of the game. He is equipped with a Uefa A-Licence ­obtained through the Irish Football Association. The A-Licence is the second-highest global coaching qualification after the Uefa Pro Licence.

McCarthy cut his coaching teeth in September 2015 as assistant coach with Belgian club St Truiden. However, he was axed after only seven months with his head coach Chris O’Loughlin.

The 39-year-old has seen it all and it is high time that he imparts his knowledge to the local game. With 80 Bafana Bafana caps, McCarthy’s international football experience knows no limits. He has plied his trade in the Netherlands (Ajax Amsterdam), Spain (Celta Vigo), Portugal (FC Porto) and England (Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United). He is the only South African player to win the revered Uefa Champions League and achieved that feat with FC Porto in 2004, under Manchester United manager José Mourinho. Added to that, McCarthy is the only South African player to score at two World Cup tournaments (1998 and 2002).

Having stated that, I maintain that it would be grossly unfair to assume that McCarthy is destined for failure before he can even lead his charges out of the dugout.

  • Teboho Letshaba is an SABC journalist and writes in his personal capacity.

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