Benni McCarthy wants achieve ’something magical’ as AmaZulu look to qualify for Champions League group stage
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Johannesburg - AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy says they are looking forward to achieving “something magical” for the club, given that they are one match away from qualifying for the group stage of the Champions League.
After turning Usuthu from perennial relegation candidates to runner-up finishers in the Premiership, McCarthy brought a sense of belief to the club and his charges that they can achieve anything that they put their minds to.
But they didn’t live up to that lofty billing from the outset this term after a rocky start, although they progressed to the second round of the Champions League qualifiers after an impressive second leg match away against Big Bullets last month.
In the second round, AmaZulu were drawn against TP Mazembe. The five-time African champions returned home with a goalless draw last Friday, making for an exciting match when the two teams cross paths again on Saturday.
McCarthy knows that their trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo will be taxing, given the fact that they’ve been juggling between continental and local football.
But he understands that avoiding defeat will see them reach the ‘Promised Land’.
“It’s CAF Champions League, and we are one match away from qualifying for the group stages for the first time in the history of the club,” McCarthy said.
“I am excited and nervous at the same time. We know that they’ve won the title on five occasions.
“They’ve got good pedigree, but we can go there (with so much confidence). We didn’t disappoint ourselves the first time out, so we have a chance to go and do something magical that has never been done by AmaZulu in its history.”
Usuthu might wear the underdogs’ cap on Saturday afternoon but they head into the match on the back of a 1-0 away win over TS Galaxy in the Premiership on Tuesday.
McCarthy nevertheless believes that they were very fortunate to walk away with the spoils given the fact that they were by far the second-best team.
As a result, he lauded the incredible work achieved by new Galaxy coach Sead Ramovic in a short space of time.
“I think today we were exceptionally fortunate. We were up against a very good and organised Galaxy team. You can clearly see what coach Ramovic has brought in, and I think the direction that the club is moving in is really good,” McCarthy said.
“You can see how comfortable their players are on the ball, how very sure they are of themselves.
That made it difficult for us. But it was nice to see that both teams didn’t sit back. They both came out and played some nice football.”
McCarthy was also disappointed that some “silly players” in his team complicated football by spending too much time on the ball. And he didn’t end there, explaining that it had become a national problem as it happens more often.
“We keep being mediocre because we want to be special when we are just learning how to walk. That frustrates me. My team is doing it now, but you see it every week in South African football,” he said on SuperSport in his post-match reaction.