Benni McCarthy: Passion personified or disrespectful rookie?January 23, 2018
So there I was, kitted out in my royal blue and gold Cape Town City FC replica shirt with matching vuvuzela, ready for the highly anticipated iKapa derby between City and their neighbours, Ajax Cape Town, at the beautiful Cape Town Stadium this past Saturday.
I arrived just over an hour before kick off, to soak up the atmosphere, enjoy a beverage or two and catch some “gees’.
I was however left a bit disappointed as there weren’t much atmosphere or “gees” for the first 30 minutes or so, so I sipped on my beverage, watched the visuals on the big screens and listened to Shakira’s “Waka Waka” blaring at high volume from the public address system.
I quickly learned that the reason for the fairly tranquil atmosphere inside the stadium was because Computicket’s system had crashed earlier and people were encouraged to either buy tickets at the stadium or through another ticket supplier. Luckily I bought my ticket at Checkers in my hometown, Wellington, the day before so I wasn’t affected.
From my seat in block 103, row 7 in the blue area, I had a fairly good view of everything Cape Town Stadium has to offer. The architecture is world class and modern, the big screens are of high quality and well positioned (unlike another stadium in Cape Town), the playing surface is suprisingly lush and green and there are many food and drink vendors as well as bathroom facilities.
I got to see Supersport’s Julia Stuart interviewing both Benni McCarthy (City) and Muhsin Ertugral (Ajax) ahead of the game and I saw both in front of me and on my phone the City social media admin, Julian Bailey, typing away on his devices and informing the followers on the various social media platforms.
Speaking of which, I regularly see Bailey getting compliments from tweeters who support the big Gauteng teams on how he handles City’s social media accounts and that’s a huge feather in his cap.
The stadium announcer informed us that kickoff had been postponed by 15 minutes to accommodate those who were still not inside the stadium due to delays caused by the Computicket glitch. Mateo (CTC’s popular young mascot) lead out the home team with a thunderous and imposing rendition of their team songs. Both sets of supporters who sat in the middle of the stadium (opposite the tunnel) upped the ante and clapped, sang and blew their vuvuzelas to spur on their respective teams.
City totally dominated the first half but failed to find the back of the net. I was very amused by McCarthy’s antics on the touchline as he was all arms and legs and very demonstrative when relaying his instructions or sharing his dismay with his players and the match officials.
Dismay turned to pure delight soon after halftime when local boy, Craig Martin, headed home after Ajax were caught napping by a short corner. Ayanda Patosi crossed to the unmarked Martin, who finished in style and then set off to celebrate with his fans behind the Ajax goal.
City really should’ve scored a few more goals, but kept Ajax in the game by not taking their chances, and also allowed the visitors the occasional opportunity at equalising.
The biggest talking point in the game came in the 77th minute though when McCarthy substituted Martin with new signing Kwanda Mngonyama, who made his way onto the field whilst Martin was still making his way off it.
Ajax, trailing by a goal and eager to get on with it, got the ball back into play which meant that City briefly had 12 players on the field of play. This angered Ertugral and he gestured that Mngonyama had to be booked which infuriated McCarthy who then swiftly walked over to the Ajax coach and almost looked like he was ready to exchange blows before he was pulled aside by officials and some of his players.
Words were angrily exchanged between McCarthy and the much older Ertugral before the City coach was ordered off the field, but not before making a final verbal threat to Ertugral and clapping to the stands to acknowledge the home team’s supporters who were chanting “Benni,Benni, Benni”.
The final 10 minutes were almost anti climatic as City was happy to slow the game down and Ajax were eager to get a point out of it, but never really produced any clear cut chances to threaten Sage Stephens’ goal.
After the final whistle there were no sign of Benni, but his players did well to thank their supporters at every end of the stadium, and so did the Ajax players.
It was reported afterwards (and the picture above would suggest so) that McCarthy had another verbal spat with Ertugral after the game and that was probably uncalled for.
I have absolutely no issue with Benni’s passion and drive to see his team perform well and win football matches. I loved him when he was a player and I love the fact that he’s my adopted team’s manager but he must be careful that he doesn’t throw too many tantrums, especially when playing outside of Cape Town where he is well loved and adored by all.
He’s still a young manager and he must learn to keep his emotions intact and not act like a baby, as Ertugral referred to him in a post-match interview.
I stayed for a while after the final whistle and couldn’t help but think how so many Capetonians had missed out on a really good game of football at a world-class facality right on their doorstep.
I have cut all my ties with the English Premier League team I had supported for many years a long time ago and made a promise to myself to spend more time, energy and other resources on local football.
I have now watched City play at both Athlone and Cape Town Stadium and watched Bafana Bafana play against Nigeria in Cape Town too. I have also not watched any European or other football simply because I choose not to. I have found my football home…