Benni has high hopes for Pirates
ORLANDO Pirates goal ace Benni McCarthy believes the club can win the African Champions League next season — and that keeping on Augusto Palacios as coach is the masterstroke that will make it possible.
Club chairman Irvin Khoza recently decided to keep Palacios on board after the Peruvian took over from Julio Leal in mid-season.
McCarthy has give Palacios his full backing. Palacios has been given a one-year contract after an impressive second half of the previous season following the departure of Leal.
“It’s no good that we dominate South African football by winning two successive trebles, but in (Africa) Champions League we suck. Palacios deserves to stay and this will give him a better chance of preparing the players for our next challenge,” said McCarthy.
It was under Leal that the Buccaneers were knocked out of the Champions League preliminary round by Recreativo de Libolo of Angola in March, ending the club’s hope of adding to their African title of 1995.
McCarthy, who scored a total of 13 goals in 29 games in all competitions last season, lamented the departure of “experienced players” like Benson Mhlongo and Isaac Chansa, but said the new signings could still elevate the club in the new campaign.
Mhlongo signed a two-year contract with Platinum Stars, while Chansa has moved to the Chinese Super League to join Henan Jianye FC.
“It’’s a shame that we never got to say goodbye, and they will be missed. But that is how football works. You have just got to move on and make the best of the next step,” McCarthy said.
“But it’s very exciting for Pirates now. We have a bunch of great new players and this coming season we have five new trophies that we could win. The Nedbank Cup escaped us last season after we were beaten by Free State Stars.”
Among the new players recruited by the Buccaneers, the return of midfielder Onyekachi Okonkwo to the team after five years abroad proved the most exciting.
Personally, the former European Champions League winner with Porto FC in 2004, said he was done proving critics wrong.
“Winning the treble was me proving the doubters wrong. If ever people thought I came here for a holiday, I showed that football is never a holiday for me. I still want more trophies, that is why I play football,” he said.