AmaZulu’s Benni McCarthy definitely deserved to win the coach of the season award. The former Bafana Bafana striker inherited a team that did not have as much resources as the so-called “big three” but still managed to guide them to a second-place finish, their highest placing in the PSL era.
The following are five matches in which Benni proved he is a tactical genius.
1. Golden Arrows 0-1 AmaZulu
Playing against the high-flying Arrows side, McCarthy’s Usuthu side won 1-0 with Luvuyo Memela scoring the only goal of the game. McCarthy proved his tactical nous here as his side won the game even though Arrows were arguably the better side on the day. His tactical formation ensured that his side was able to fend off the Arrows onslaught at the death.
2. Cape Town City 1-5 AmaZulu
McCarthy’s return to his homeland of the Western Cape to square off against his former employers was a good one as his side won 5-1, their highest margin of victory in the top-flight since the inception of the PSL. McCarthy managed to get his attackers to fully exploit the City defence which was shaky all season.
3.AmaZulu 0-0 Mamelodi Sundowns
Even though Usuthu had only 37% ball possession in this game, it’s safe to say that this game could have gone either way depending on who had that bit of luck. Even though Sundowns are technically stronger than Usuthu, the KZN based club used transition tactics well, so much so that they managed to match Sundowns in terms of shots at goal as both teams had ten apiece.
4. AmaZulu 4-3 Bloemfontein Celtic
Two players who transformed under the leadership of McCarthy were midfielder Makhehlene Makhaula and defender Thapelo Xoki. Makhaula expertly played a Claude Makhelele type role in this game with defender Xoki hitting a stunner to win the game in second-half stoppage time.
Previous Usuthu sides would have content to settle for a draw and point.
5. AmaZulu 0-0 Maritzburg United
I know this might come as a surprise to many but in Usuthu’s final game of the season, the AmaZulu coach proved that he also cares about the fans and the well-being of his players.
Some coaches would have played a full-strength team even though the game was a virtual dead rubber with Usuthu having already secured second spot. McCarthy opted to give the fans something to be excited about by handing starts to fringe players including PSL legend Siphiwe Tshabalala and Andre de Jong.