Is AmaZulu coach McCarthy ready to answer his next challenge?

09:38 SAST 2021/06/15
Benni McCarthy AmaZulu 2020
The Usuthu mentor beat Sundowns' Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena, as well as Arrows coach Mandla Ncikazi, to win PSL Coach of the Season award

Former Bafana Bafana striker Benni McCarthy has raised the bar even higher for himself in his coaching career after his exploits with AmaZulu last season.

Setting high expectations from the start

McCarthy's coaching career has been relatively short, but very impressive so far.

He started off in the PSL with Cape Town City and helped them win the MTN8 and to fifth and fourth-placed finishes in the two league seasons he completed.

And then, in his second job in the PSL, McCarthy was handed the reigns by ambitious new owner Sandile Zungu.

A fourth placed finish had been the mandate - and back in December when he arrived in Durban, even that seemed ambitious.

But McCarthy took it in his stride, formed the technical team that he wanted, got his players on board, and with a points per game average of 1.96, has not looked back as he guided AmaZulu to a second-placed finish and with that, qualification for the Caf Champions League.

New challenges

One thing Benni won't be doing is resting on his laurels in the off-season. By his own admission he's a workaholic, and he'll be fully aware of just how high he's set the bar for himself now.

Not only will he need to replicate or improve upon the Durban's league finish (a tough ask with Mamelodi Sundowns around), but he'll also be planning on challenging for domestic silverware in the three cup competitions.

And that's before considering the challenges, and potential toll, which travelling across Africa will have on his playing staff.

Squad adjustments?

How much do you change a winning side? Are some of AmaZulu's veteran campaigners still strong enough to give another full season, playing regularly week-in, week-out? What will happen to the team if the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns or even Kaizer Chiefs come knocking and snap up some of his star performers?

Next season could be a case of harsh reality and of the honeymoon period abrupt ending, unless the Capetonian can continue to work his magic.

Emotional control

Part of what makes Benni, 'Benni' is his passion, his honesty and his larger-than-life character. Now and then, though, he oversteps the mark, as was seen with a touchline incident involving Mamelodi Sundowns defender Mosa Lebusa last season, or with his emotional outburst at the match-officiating in a game late in the season against Pirates.

If he can learn to get his emotions a bit more under control, while not losing too much of his fire, he should have the perfect demeanor for a successful coach.

Future Bafana coach?

A slightly more mature Benni McCarthy, with another few seasons of experience under his belt, would surely make a fantastic national team coach.

With the current state of Bafana, and the pressure new man in charge Hugo Broos is under to qualify for the World Cup, Benni probably dodged a bullet by not being given the job at this stage.

In the future, with the right platform, he should be given the opportunity, his coaching CV aside, McCarthy's achievements as a player and his stature on the world stage, should make him a perfect fit.

And the fact that he's a born winner.