Second season blues for Benni McCarthy at AmaZulu?

7:34 PM WAT 02/12/2021
Benni McCarthy AmaZulu
The latest setback for Usuthu came on Sunday when they allowed struggling Maritzburg United to grab a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw

The current season has been a marked contrast for AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy and his team.

In fact, the Durban side has now won only two of their last 10 games in all competitions, although it should also be mentioned they've only lost one in that period - the other seven have been draws.

Two of those draws were also against TP Mazembe in the Caf Champions League - the 1-1 away and 0-0 home scorelines were enough to send Usuthu through to the next round at the DR Congo giants' expense.

And so while it's not like AmaZulu are in a serious slump, they're also not producing the kind of results and performances which McCarthy demands. We've seen recently in his post-match interviews a growing sense of frustration from the former Bafana Bafana striker.

When McCarthy arrived last season in the early months of new owner Sandile Zungu's revolution, he was, together with his players, able to ride the crest of that wave all the way until the end of the season as the KwaZulu-Natal side exceeded expectations to finish second in the league.

That however would only have served to raise the bar, a challenge the ambitious McCarthy would have relished.

With only three league wins from 13 games this season, he won’t be happy – last season AmaZulu won 15 of 30.

Now perhaps, his time at the club may be at a bit of a crossroads, as we head into a very busy pre-Christmas fixture scheduled.

Having dropped points when they shouldn't have, McCarthy's frustrations could quickly increase if his eighth-placed side falls further off the pace after matches against Royal AM, Orlando Pirates, Chippa United (home and away), Marumo Gallants, Mamelodi Sundowns and Pirates again, all before 25 December.

Those seven games may well prove pivotal in AmaZulu's season, and McCarthy will be demanding a response from his men after some relatively lacklustre displays in recent weeks.

Of course, a strong run in the Champions League could change the picture, but domestically, AmaZulu must surely be eyeing at least a top-three finish.

Likely still eyeing a chance to coach in Europe (after a brief spell previously as an assistant in Belgium), the Uefa Champions League winner will only become further disillusioned if his players can’t live up to his standards.

There’s also the possibility of him one day coaching at the club where he ended his playing career, Orlando Pirates, who have not yet fully settled under interim co-coaches.

One gets the feeling there’s a lot still to come from Benni as a coach, and he’s matured and improved greatly already in his few seasons in the PSL, with first Cape Town City and then AmaZulu.

Usuthu fans will be hoping the players are up for the challenge and have the mental fortitude required: if McCarthy is to remain happy where he is and for a positive synergy to remain in the camp.

A few more disappointments, and the vibe could turn sour and once that happens in football, it’s difficult to reverse.