Benni McCarthy: AmaZulu unveil Bafana Bafana legend as new head coach

Benni McCarthy, Cape Town City
South Africa’s all-time top scorer returns to the PSL in a management capacity after leaving Cape Town City in late 2019

AmaZulu have unveiled Bafana Bafana legend Benni McCarthy as their new head coach, with the ex-South Africa striker being revealed in a press conference on Monday.

The 43-year-old replaced Ayanda Dlamini, who stepped down as head coach last week with Usuthu down in 11th in the Premier Soccer League, having won just one of his opening six PSL fixtures this season.

The likes of Owen da Gama, Eric Tinkler, Gordon Igesund and Shaun Bartlett had all been named as potential successors for Dlamini at ambitious AmaZulu, but ultimately it’s McCarthy who gets the nod.

“There can only be one head coach for AmaZulu,” AmaZulu chief Sandile Zungu said at a press conference on Monday before unveiling McCarthy, “and we have chosen this head coach.”

The former FC Porto frontman has been unemployed since leaving Cape Town City in 2019, missing out on the top job at Scottish Premier League side Hearts during that period and being linked with a move to Ajax Cape Town as he waited for a new opportunity.

He will begin his new role against Golden Arrows on Wednesday, as AmaZulu look to bounce back from a poor start after an ambitious offseason of investment.

As well as marquee arrival Siphiwe Tshabalala, they also recruited Luvuyo Memela, Augustine Mulenga and Siphelele Mthembu among others as they look to upset the established order in the PSL.

Another of the club’s recent new signings—Anele Ngcongca—was killed in a car crash last month, just over a week after signing for the KwaZulu-Natal outfit.

McCarthy held the reins at Cape Town City between June 2017 and November 2019, but was dismissed late last year after winning just two of his previous 18 matches.

Despite his toil in the Mother City, Zungu was enthusiastic about the prospect of recruiting the ex-Blackburn Rovers frontman when questioned last week.

“Oh Benni in the 18-area. We haven’t finalised with the coach that we will be bringing to AmaZulu,” Zungu told Marawa Sport Worldwide on Metro FM and Radio 2000.

“It’s probably a few days, if not a week before we sign our deal. It will not be my sole decision, but we will decide as a committee,” he added. “We are not bureaucratic at Usuthu but we involve people because sometimes many people’s views are better than one person’s view.

“To be very honest, a few hours after we announced Ayanda’s departure we received about 70 calls just about from everyone. We will be following processes with my support team to review who we need to go with.

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“There is a couple of great names in the soccer fraternity who have extreme experience with the South African environment who have raised their hands. So we are spoilt for choice which is very flattering because it then means that there is something good about us.”

One of the finest African strikers of his generation, McCarthy was a Dutch champion with Ajax, won the Portuguese title—and the Champions League—under Jose Mourinho at FC Porto, before embarking on a Premier League career with Blackburn Rovers.

A move to West Ham United in 2010 didn’t work out, and he ultimately ended his career back in his homeland as a PSL winner with Orlando Pirates.