The Citizens reached the MTN8 Cup final last season and lost to their visitors, yet the ex-Bafana Bafana striker is adamant that his men will challenge for the league title this time around.
In their opening PSL match, McCarthy wants a win as the Mother City side will welcome Amatsantsantsa A Pitori under the guidance of coach Kaitano Tembo on Saturday evening.
However, he remains cautious of the Tshwane-based outfit saying that they have not made many changes in their squad and is not sure of what to expect.
“I don’t know too much because they haven’t done much business during the transfer window, so they’ve been a little under the radar,” McCarthy told IOL.
“Some may say that they are an ageing squad, but age brings experience and composure, players who are familiar with situations, and are able to grind out results,” he added.
“But I’m excited for this season, probably much more than last season, because I’m not a rookie anymore,” he revealed.
“I’m optimistic - and I think we are real contenders this season. I have a balanced squad, with two or three players for every position," said the former FC Porto striker.
“Now it’s about getting the monkey off our backs and making sure we get the season off to a winning start on Saturday. I think last season I tried too hard to make the players feel comfortable,” recalled McCarthy.
“I probably babied the players too much. That will change - I will be more direct this season because it’s not about being liked or not, it’s about getting the job done," he said.
“I think the players want to be told how it is straight, and that is what I will do. It’s going to be a brutal season,” concluded the coach.
Moreover, the 2016/17 Telkom Knockout Cup champions have signed the likes of Riyaad Norodien, Gift Links as well as goalkeeper Peter Leeuwenburgh and Siphelele Mthembu among others.
Just last weekend, they beat Kaizer Chiefs in the Mpumalanga Cultural Experience Cup and will be gunning for continuity on Saturday evening.