COMMENT: Is this Benni McCarthy's chance to make a real statement as coach?

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Jimmy Tau and Benni McCarthy
McCarthy made a name for himself as a player, but a win against Matsatsantsa in the MTN8 final will send a strong message to his rivals

When Benni McCarthy took over the reins from Eric Tinkler at Cape Town City at the beginning of the season, not too many football fans and experts expected him to be where he is today.

He was deemed inexperienced to coach a team as ambitious as the Citizens when he was first roped in as their manager, but everyone starts somewhere, and McCarthy took that chance and accepted the job in his home town.

Benni has taken like a duck to water in his few matches, and taught a few established coaches, including his mentor Gavin Hunt, a thing or two about tactics and winning games, but Saturday's encounter in undoubtely his biggest test so far in his coaching career.

Bidvest Wits, Gavin Hunt & Cape Town City, Benni McCarthy

At 39, McCarthy is one game away from rewriting the history book of South African football. 

It wasn’t too long ago when McCarthy went to the podium to receive the MTN8 winner’s medal as a player, and it is now his chance to win it as a manager; something that no other coach has achieved since the new sponsors took over almost 10 years ago.

Furthermore, winning the MTN8 final will send a strong message to the so called ‘Cup Kings’ of South African football that Cape Town is back on top.

Reaching the final is actually an achievement on its own for McCarthy, but putting his hands on the trophy would mean a lot, not only to the people of Cape Town, but to his coaching career if he’s to become one of the respected coaches in the country.

Benni McCarthy of Cape Town City

Delivering a piece of silverware to City would undoubtedly leave the majority of club bosses, who ignored him when he availed himself, scratching their heads and asking themselves questions on why they didn’t hire him in and use his expertise.

McCarthy has enough ammunition to use against SuperSport United. He played against a few of their players during his playing days, including Morgan Gould and Reneilwe Letsholonyane, and he knows what to expect from them.

He also worked under Tinkler, who was his an assistant to Roger de Sa at Orlando Pirates during the 2012/13 season – that was prior to his retirement in June 2013.

Benni McCarthy of Orlando Pirates

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Now, he needs to prove that he’s his own man and can do things better than his former coach, Tinkler, although the former Pirates manager would consider himself more experienced than his counterpart having previously played in at least two cup finals as a coach.

Lastly, McCarthy has the players – a few of them who are experienced enough to handle the pressure and the magnitude of a cup final, including Teko Modise, Lehlohonolo Majoro, Ayanda Patosi and Robyn Johannes among others.

So, yes, this is Benni's biggest chance to make a real statement, and prove that he's destined for greatness as a head coach.