Benni blows his top
Benni McCarthy is almost back to his best on the pitch - and off it.
But as the Orlando Pirates hit man starts to pick up form, having overcome niggling injuries to play four consecutive matches, he also needs to control his temper.
The touchline confrontation McCarthy had with Wits coaches Roger de Sa and Eric Tinkler in the Telkom Knockout final on Saturday night has led to Pirates coach Julio Leal warning McCarthy to cool it. Leal is worried McCarthy could become a liability.
Leal admitted that McCarthy was an important player and that the Buccaneers would struggle to win matches if he were not available.
But the Pirates coach said that McCarthy, a 2004 European Champions League winner with Porto, would harm the club's ambitions of defending their Absa Premiership title if he did not manage his anger.
Leal prevented a fist fight between De Sa and McCarthy minutes before post-match interviews after Pirates had beaten Wits 3-1 in the cup final at Moses Mabhida stadium on Saturday night.
However, McCarthy believes he had to defend his honour when he was being disrespected by De Sa and his assistant, Tinkler.
"It's football to have players trying to wind each other up, but for Roger de Sa and Eric Tinkler, two former footballers, to show disrespect like that, that's a little bit out of line," said McCarthy.
"Behaviour like that should be thrown out the game. Tinkler thought we were still teammates in the national team and I had even forgotten we played together."
McCarthy, Bafana's leading goal-scorer, said he had made more money and won more cups than De Sa and Tinkler combined, but was not "nasty to anyone".
However, he warned that he could get "nasty" if he wanted to.
"If we put up money and all that I have achieved and what they have achieved, I would gladly join that conversation. I know I would come right on top. Maybe that is why they are coaching Wits and are not the Gavin Hunts and Steve Komphelas of this league," said McCarthy.
The conflict started before the game was even over. McCarthy said Tinkler was lucky he didn't slap him as the players made their way to the dressing rooms at halftime. Wits's OJ Mabizela stepped in between the two men.
Leal, however, is not amused.
"There has to be a limit," said the Pirates coach. "I want my players to respect the opposition. Benni must control his temper.
"He got a red card when we needed him [against Maritzburg United and Pirates lost 2-1 after McCarthy had given them the lead] and if he doesn't control it, he could damage our league preparations and our plans in other competitions."
Leal was referring to the Premier League, the African Champions League and Nedbank Cup.
The Buccaneers are sixth on the league table, seven points behind log leaders Supersport United - and they need McCarthy. They have not lost a game this season when McCarthy has played the full 90 minutes.