JOHANNESBURG Orlando Pirates coach Julio Cesar Leal denies he was pressured by fans into bringing on Benni McCarthy during Sundays Absa Premiership win over Maritzburg United on Sunday.
The Brazilian, whose club have now won five league matches in a row but who continues to be the subject of speculation about his future, brought McCarthy on with some 20 minutes to go and was quickly rewarded with a spectacular over-head kick goal that proved the only one of the game.
The crowd had been calling for the Bafana Bafana record goalscorer to be introduced, but Leal says: I did not do the change because the people asked me. I felt it was the right time, they were right, I was too.
McCarthys goal ensured three valuable points for Pirates. He was the last of Leals changes, following on Thulasizwe Mbuyane at half-time and Tokelo Rantie just after the hour mark.
Leal said he was never influenced by the crowd in his selection of changes.
There are a lot of times when I make a decision that is not what they want, he added in the wake of Sundays 1-0 win, which puts Pirates tie second with arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs and three points behind Mamelodi Sundowns.
I know well the behaviour of Orlando Pirates and South African supporters, Leal said.
Replacements are not a science, but its art, more than that its a feeling, he added.