Durban - AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy offered a rarer glimpse into his more softer side after his team overcame the odds to beat African giants TP Mazembe on away goals in their CAF Champions League second preliminary tie on Saturday afternoon.
After the first leg ended 0-0 in Durban last week, Usuthu managed to earn a 1-1 draw with the five-times African Champions at the Stade TP Mazembe to prevail.
“Sometimes I’m a tough coach and a tough father figure, but this is because I want the best for my players. I think they need to be more focused and concentrated, because you cannot have the quality that we have and then be mediocre,” McCarthy said.
“When I’m critical of my team, it’s because I don’t want them to lower their standards. I want them to realize that they have a short career but must make the most of it,”.
It was Usuthu’s realistic approach to the game which helped them prevail. After taking a surprise lead in the first half through Bongi Ntuli, they defended deep and were helped by a masterclass performance from goalkeeper Veli Mothwa.
This frustrated the hosts whose game decreased in quality in the second half.
“Today I saw heart and personality and arrogance. I saw a group of players that were not afraid mentally. On the eve of the game, we had negative Covid-19 tests before Tapelo Xoki was unlucky,” McCarthy said.
“We launched a complaint before he was allowed to play ten minutes before kickoff. For our team to go through a lot and batter Mazembe was incredible.
“It was also the first time we played on astroturf. These players will go down in history for what they did today, beating the five-times champions of Africa,” added McCarthy.
The result means that AmaZulu have progressed to the CAF Champions League group stage which will take place next year, in their historic first ever Champions League campaign.
Usuthu will now turn their focus back to the DSTV Premiership. They will next be in action domestically against Sekhukhune United in an away clash at the Ellis Park Stadium next Wednesday.