FILE - AmaZulu head coach Benni McCarthy. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
FILE - AmaZulu head coach Benni McCarthy. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

’We deserved to lose,’ says AmaZulu’s Benni McCarthy after going down to Sekhukhune

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Oct 28, 2021

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Johannesburg – AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy has conceded that they deserved to lose in their DStv Premiership encounter against Sekhukhune United on Wednesday amid various disruptions in camp, which include fatigue after their continental trip.

On Saturday, AmaZulu achieved the improbable as a club. They qualified for the CAF Champions League group stage for the first time in their history thanks to the away goal rule after their 1-1 draw with TP Mazembe in the DRC.

But unfortunately they were subjected to unsportsmanlike treatment before and after the game in Lubumbashi. Defender Tapelo Xoki’s Covid-19 results were fixed, their kit-man was beaten up, while their valuables were almost stolen.

Amid all the euphoria of qualifying for the group stage, enduring the hostile treatment and the jet-lag, Usuthu still had a midweek league fixture to honour. They were set to visit high-flying Sekhukhune at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Sekhukhune, on a roll after winning their last two matches, exploited Usuthu’s fatigue early in the second half, scoring two quick goals from Willard Katsande and Chibuike Ohizu, while the red card to attacker Pogiso Mahlangu didn’t haunt them.

“I won’t say these boys allowed themselves to be complacent. But like I said, there were medical reasons before the game. There were few of our players (that were affected),” McCarthy said on pay-channel SuperSport tv after the match.

“But that’s not an excuse. Sekhukhune made it difficult. They were straightforward. They played with long-balls. We weren’t at our best. We lost 2-0 but we have to be proud of that after what went on in our camp (in the last few days).”

McCarthy continued: “We were (supposed) to get a hammering, that’s how bad it was. But 2-0, we’ll take it. We move on. I think there’ll be lessons learnt and now we can prepare better when we go to play in CAF and come back home.”

With the group stage of the continental showpiece set to get underway early next year, Usuthu will turn their focus to continental football, meanwhile. But McCarthy is right. Usuthu will have to balance their act between the two campaigns.

But that won’t be easy, given the fact that it’s their first time on the continent. And that’s probably why McCarthy has to do some research and ask for guidance from his coaching peers at Mamelodi Sundowns who’ve been at it for years.

“When you come back, domestically, teams go for it. They capitalise on travelling and the things that the clubs don’t deal with. I can’t blame the players. They were not 100% medically fit to play normally for us today,” he said.

“Most players would say ‘I don’t want to play’. But I have players that were still willing to go out for the team. For that I am proud of the guys. We work and go forward. We know that we are a much better team than what we showed, here, today.”

@Mihlalibaleka

IOL Sport

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