McCarthy admits dread ahead of greatest coaching triumph

Benni McCarthy celebrates scoring for Orlando Pirates Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Benni McCarthy admits feeling fear and dread, but has emerged with his first trophy as a head coach after securing the MTN8 title with Cape Town City on Saturday.

City defeated SuperSport United 4-1 on penalties after a goalless draw at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, a match in which the Mother City side dominated and should have wrapped up the result long before a shoot-out was needed.

It was also revenge for McCarthy and City after they were beaten on penalties by the same opposition, at the same venue, in last season's MTN8 decider -- but this time walk away with the R8-million first prize.

"It was the most nerve-wracking football match that I've endured," McCarthy admitted to reporters post-match. "I think last season was tough but this one was worse because as much as we were trying to be positive and keep the guys energised and constantly telling them to believe, but I don't think any of us [on the bench] believed ourselves because of what happened last season.

"I was disappointed that we didn't finish the game off in the 90 minutes but we've kept up our integrity in believing that we can play through any team and in the end I thought SuperSport said, 'you know what, we are fighting a losing battle' and they ended up sitting back."

McCarthy believes SuperSport settled for penalties early, especially as their goalkeeper Ronwen Williams boasted an excellent record as an expert in shoot-outs.

"By the looks of it, SuperSport seemed pretty comfortable with taking us to penalties and relying on Ronwen Williams to win them the cup. We all know he is a specialist in these things and rightfully so; he's one of the top goalkeepers we have in the country."

But it was Dutch goalkeeper Peter Leeuwenburgh who turned out to be the hero, making saves from Bradley Grobler and Reneilwe Letsholonyane to win City the cup.

"I was fearing we would go to penalties and to be honest, I thought: 'Nah, if it's penalties, we lose'. But now we have Peter in goals and that gave us the edge," McCarthy said.

It is a second trophy in three seasons for City, who were only formed in June 2016 when owner John Comitis purchased the status of Mpumalanga Black Aces.

They have appeared in three finals in all, each against SuperSport, and lifted the Telkom Knockout in 2016 before losing last year's MTN8 decider in heart-breaking fashion.