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Benni: How he stole the hour

TO THOSE who might have forgotten his magic in front of goal, the signs of the vintage Benni McCarthy were glaring to everyone as he inspired Orlando Pirates to a semifinal berth.

His touches were clinical, his runs well-timed and his execution ruthless. If some have been questioning his hunger, McCarthy provided shrewd answers at the Volkswagen Dobsonville Stadium in front of almost capacity crowd as Pirates beat Soweto rivals, Moroka Swallows 2-1 in the Telkom Knockout quarterfinal clash.

The former Celta Vigo striker scored a brace – the two goals that separated the two sides. But more than anything else, he put up a solid performance and played for almost 90 minutes in Bucs colours.

While it might still be early days of his return to South African football, on Saturday night, he showed that he still has a lot to offer.

At the post-match press conference, he was on top form. As he faced some of his doubters, McCarthy put a big show. This was his moment; his time of vindication. Pirates, he argued, required a special moment to beat Swallows – and that special moment came in the form of a brilliant free-kick that left Greg Etafia well beaten.

It was a special contribution from a man who has always been blessed with special talent. There will be those that will still question his appetite for success, but none at Dobsonville could challenge his talent nor his ability to be clinical in front of goals.

“It’s great for me to be able to play at least 85 minutes and not feel that tired but the altitude played a role especially towards the end of the match and some of us could feel it. Swallows came back at us with everything that they had but we had to keep going, even if you felt like you could do it anymore. I had to do it for the team.”

The free-kick he scored as a combination of art, power and precision.

“With the free kick I took, it is something I used to do at Porto and in Europe and I decided to go for it. I could not have struck it better than I did. Obviously, that brought back a bit of confidence in the team as a whole.”

It might still be early to pronounce, but maybe the ‘old’ Benni is back….in the 18 area where belongs.

Other Telkom Knockout results are: Santos 5 v Platinum Stars (penalties), Jomo Cosmos 0 v BidVest 1, Ajax Cape Town 1 v Golden Arrows 2.-PSL Website.

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