Benni McCarthy admits he is full of nerves as he embarks on his new coaching career with Cape Town City this weekend.
McCarthy returns to his home town for his first head coach job after a spell in Belgium two seasons ago as an assistant at St Truiden.
“I’m really nervous, it’s a massive step for me now that I’m in charge but I couldn’t have gone into battle for my first game with a better bunch of guys,” he said of his Cape Town City charges.
The new season in South Africa gets underway with the Top Eight competition – the traditional season-opening knockout tournament that pits the top eight finishers from last season’s league against each other.
McCarthy’s side have home advantage on Saturday for their quarter-final against Polokwane City, with a large crowd expected to watch his debut on the bench at the Cape Town Stadium.
McCarthy, who had been living in Scotland, takes over from fellow former international Eric Tinkler, who left to join Pretoria-based SuperSport United after taking City to an unexpected third place in the last season’s final table.
“I’m looking forward to Saturday because the guys all want to replicate last season’s success,” said McCarthy.
“They don’t want people to call them, ‘one hit wonders’.
“They have got something to prove which is perfect for me because I can rely on their eagerness to prove themselves again in their second year in the league,” he added.
McCarthy, who turns 40 in November, scored 31 goals in 80 caps for Bafana Bafana in his international career, and is Bafana Bafana’s top marksman.
He is widely regarded as the country’s best footballing export, having won the Champions League with FC Porto and played in the Premier League at Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United.
Now, he says he no longer wants to be under the spotlight.
“For me now it’s all about the players. I’m the past and this is their time to shine.
“I don’t want to take any thunder from anyone. I’m just happy where I am now on the side.”