Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy admits he’s somewhat relieved to be out of the CAF Confederation Cup following his side’s brutal loss to Mozambique’s Costa Do Sol.
Following a 1-0 away win, City were beaten 2-1 at Athlone Stadium on Sunday afternoon, exiting the tournament on the away goals rule following a physical and aggressive encounter in Cape Town which saw a number of bone-crunching tackles, numerous skirmishes on the field as well as a half-time tunnel bust up between McCarthy and opposite number Fabio Costas.
“It was more like a Sunday league gangster game,” McCarthy said after the game. “It ended up being really physical and intimidating for the younger players, and that’s why I opted for the senior players. But it didn’t work and didn’t go accordingly, and I think we lost it in midfield because we didn’t have Teko [Modise], [Roland] Putsche or [Thabo] Nodada there – we played a centre-back [Kwanda Mngonyama] who grew into the role too little too late, I’m afraid.”
Despite admitting his squad rotation did not work effectively on the day, McCarthy says he is somewhat relieved that he does not have to go through that again this season.
“There was more going on outside than inside the game,” he said. “I’ve never been in game with so many fights, and the referee had no control over the game. I was scared of losing some of my players for the rest of the season because of the tackles flying in, and the referee just doing absolutely nothing.
“I know people will hate or criticise me for this, but maybe us going out is a blessing as at least I know my players will be safer in the Nedbank Cup and in the league as I think our officials have way more control over the games than this. If this was a PSL game, they would have had two or three players sent off just in the first half.
“It’s unfortunate for the fringe players who haven’t played many games in the league, but a blessing now that we don’t have to travel outside of South Africa. But it was a good learning curve and nice experience, and hopefully Champions League football will be better, though I’m not sure if I can say the same for the match officials.”
McCarthy added that he will not be rushing back to play in a CAF tournament anytime soon.
“We’ve learnt a lot and we now know the expectations and differences of playing in Africa compared to the PSL, and I’ll take the PSL all day long over Africa,” he said. “But I’m not in a rush to go back to play in Africa again.”
City now turn their attention to domestic cup matters, with a Nedbank Cup quarter-final clash against Mamelodi Sundowns following the resumption of the league after the Fifa international break.