How to be front & centre – Benni McCarthy

2012-10-05 12:19

Orlando Pirates is currently dominating local soccer with a treble of titles in each of the last two seasons.

Benni McCarthy, who is also Bafana Bafana’s all-time top goal-scorer, has been one of its standout players.

Gavin Hunt, coach of the defending Nedbank Cup champions SuperSport United and three-time winner of the PSL title, explains Benni’s magic.

1. Grace under pressure
Benni has been very successful for Pirates playing inside the box as a centre forward.

He holds the ball up well and is able to bring other attackers who are better positioned in front of the goal into play.

He does this despite the constant attention of defenders.

His experience and deft touches under pressure contribute to his sharp passing game.

2. Changing role

Previously, Benni played off the centre forward and was more of a striker.

He put himself in excellent scoring positions through his awareness of space, of where the gaps in the defensive line were, and of the openings in the goal mouth.

He’s no longer somebody who runs off the centre forward – he’s positioned in the box, out-muscling opponents and scoring with both feet.

3. International experience

Benni is the best striker in the history of South African football, scoring 31 goals for Bafana Bafana in 79 games and 34 goals in 74 games for Porto.

He’s also played at the highest level and won the UEFA Champions League with Porto in 2004. At the peak of his powers he was fast, struck the ball well with both feet and put himself in excellent positions to head it home.

4. Defensive play
He is still good enough to punish defenders.

Benni may no longer try and run defenders ragged with his pace, yet he shrewdly positions himself at the far post or near post, runs at angles to intercept the ball, and knows how to put fellow strikers in position to convert chances into goals.

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