McCarthy has praised the organization of the KZN Premiers Cup for affording Usuthu room to test the depth of his squad ahead of the new season as they emerged second to Maritzburg United at Chatsworth Stadium on 08 August.
The Team of Choice won the title 5-3 penalties in the final after the match had ended 2-2 on fulltime in a nail-biting affair.
The 43-year-old tactician said after the proceedings: “I think it was a very well-organized event. It was good competition for the teams, especially for us. I think I appreciate it more because we have had a little bit of a wobble in our pre-season. We played four matches, but it wasn’t of the quality that we would have loved to see. Now to have the opportunity to test ourselves against two PSL teams, teams that we are going to face in the league as well, that was good. I think the players showed strength and quality, so, I am very happy and satisfied with the way we the tournament was organized,” he said.
The final saw Maritzburg take the lead through Richard Zumah in the 16th minute, but Tapelo Xoki equalized in the 23rd minute from the penalty spot.
Former Usuthu, Zukile Kewuti restored United’s lead in the 39th minute as he connected with a Brendon Theron cross from the right flank.
Sphelele Mthembu dummied Marcel Engelhardt to create space for himself towards goal on an awkward angle, to coolly slotted home the equalizer for Usuthu in the 56th minute.
“It was just unfortunate we could not go that extra mile. Penalties are a lottery. Congratulations to Maritzburg United for winning it first and foremost. The players have earned themselves a couple of days off, and then it is back to the drawing board, but knowing exactly what we have to do come Sunday for the MTN 8 because the games were a good tester. We know where we can improve and where we can make changes,” said McCarthy.
2nd QF: Richards Bay 4-5 Royal AM (penalties).
1st QF: Uthongathi 2-4 Maritzburg United (penalties).
1st SF: AmaZulu FC 3-2 Lamontville Golden Arrows. Goals: Xoki, Moremi, Majoro, Sibiya, Mathiane.
AmaZulu Squad: Mothwa, Sikhakhane, Mzava, Xoki, Mgwazela, Mlambo, Ceesay, Sithebe, Moremi, Majoro, Ntuli. Subs: Amonome, Mzimela, Khumalo, Makhaula, Ncube, Buchanan, Shonga, Shange, Mthembu.
2nd SF: Maritzburg United 5-1 Royal AM.
Final: AmaZulu 3-5 Maritzburg United (penalties).
Squad in the Final: Mothwa, Sikhakhane, Khumalo, Xoki, Mgwazela, Makhaula, Ncube, Sithebe, Moremi, Shonga, Mthembu. Subs: Amonome, Mzimela, Mlambo, Ceesay, Shange, Ntuli, Majoro.