AmaZulu are currently in second position on the DStv Premiership table, with only a point separating the two sides at present, though Sundowns still have two games in hand.
Since taking charge at the Durban outfit in December last year, McCarthy has led his side to an impressive league run of 12 wins, five draws and just a single defeat in 18 games.
With all the promise shown thus far, the former Bafana Bafana striker insists that his late start with Usuthu puts them at a disadvantage in that The Brazilians' two games in hand could change the complexion of the championship race.
"I think we've got what it takes within us to compete, but I think Sundowns are obviously in a better position, they still have two games in hand – you win your two games then the situation escalates more," McCarthy told the media.
"But not everyone had the same start – I started late in the race, I joined the race and now I'm just trying to finish it. But I will prepare myself for next season, when I can also have the same start as everyone else.
"Then I want to contest and people to ask me this question again – if I think we've got what it takes to compete for the league, because then everyone had a fair start and I think that would probably be fair on everyone.
"But we'r going to push Sundowns as far as we can, put on the pressure and see if they continue to [keep the pace] – if so then we'll congratulate them for being champions but until then it's not over until it's over, and we'll continue to go and grow."