Home Opinion and Features Time for the doctor to cut the umbilical cord

Time for the doctor to cut the umbilical cord


Neville's Eye

Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

The new Premier Soccer League season has sprung to life and newcomer coach, Cape Town City’s Benni McCarthy, is seemingly bent on restarting his career pretty much on the same note on which he stormed the conference as a player.

Thanks to the talent scouting abilities of one Ephraim Jomo Sono many moons ago, South African football in general and the SA national squad in particular was richly blessed with the talents of a boykie from the Cape flats who went on to mesmerise the local world of football and modestly also did so abroad.

McCarthy is back on familiar terrain where he is gradually becoming the toast of the coaching classes. Thus far his four-match start has led some to outright doubt his abilities, describing his success so far as a mere fluke, while the more forgiving ones have said he is an unrehabilitated serial champion.

The magic touch that club owner John Comitis had hoped might work like a charm on his squad is starting to show. Four wins is about enough proof of that. What needs to happen now is for the competition to up its game and offer McCarthy much tougher opposition than it has done hitherto – then we can talk.

Which brings up the subject of the generation to which McCarthy belongs. He is now part of a group of former players who are cutting their teeth as team mentors. That class includes Eric Tinkler, Fadlu Davids, William Manyathi, Shaun Bartlett, Patrick Mabedi and, of late, Quinton Fortune.

Besides being pure locals, this is a young generation of coaches who are taking over the reins from a mostly ageing, imported coaching battalion that have dominated the local scene for far too long.

Which also brings up the subject of Doctor Theophilus Khumalo, the erstwhile SA football wunderkind who is the new man partly in charge of Baroka FC’s tactical manoeuvres. Khumalo has finally left his cosy perch at Naturena. It was about time. He, is for all intents and purposes, the other son to the Motaung family.

Khumalo’s claim to the Motaung clan stems from the time his father, the late Eliakim “Pro” Khumalo and world travelled Kaizer Motaung, struck out from Orlando Pirates to tackle the world with their own football club.

Eliakim’s path to a well-deserved football pension was brutally cut short by thugs in the middle 1990s. Since then it has been accepted that the Motaung family would look after the young Khumalo as remittance to Motaung’s moral debt to Khumalo Senior.

Motaung himself might be mindful of his eternal debt to his departed teammate Eliakim, and accordingly has made arrangements for the continued care of the young Khumalo in the event of his own mortality calling time on him.

So now it’s a new home in Limpopo for the Doctor. The plan is for the young Khumalo to cut his coaching teeth at a club that is small enough to appreciate his presence and not too big that a mishap might permanently cripple his ego.

You see some of the Motaung siblings might not be that welcoming to a Khumalo on their stoep after the departure of daddy dearest. Signs of that already abound elsewhere.

By the looks of it Khumalo junior is in good company. Papa Motaung, as is his duty, pulled a string or two with good partners. In time Doctor, in tandem with Benni, Quinton and Davids will be the advance guard of coaches who will take over the reins from the likes of Steve Komphela, Stuart Baxter and Gavin Hunt.

We wish him well.