Benni becoming a headache
Benni McCarthy (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - If out-of-touch, out-of-favour Benni McCarthy currently would seem to constitute the biggest World Cup headache facing Carlos Albert Parreira, the Bafana Bafana coach is not without company.
Relegation-threatened English Premier League club West Ham went on a desperate buying spree before the January 31st deadline and forked out a couple of million pounds on the then-battling Blackburn Rovers striker.
But the 32-year-old player who in more balmy days accumulated a South African record of 32 international goals has hardly provided dividends of any sort since.
In nine weeks since McCarthy joined West Ham he has only made a couple of cameo appearances for the London club, not played for a full 90 minutes in any game and failed to score a single goal.
Even Parreira - a professed McCarthy admirer in spite of all the shenanigens over the Cape Town-born player's ongoing failure over the years to make himself available for Bafana if it did not suit him - must now be having doubts about his own special one.
McCarthy was banished from the Bafana squad by previous Brazilian coach Joel Santana after again ignoring national call-ups, with Parreira since still singing an old tune and cooing over the wayward striker's past virtues - with the current dearth of quality strikers in the country possibly explaining,if not justifying Parreira's ongoing inability to see the wood from the tree.
Parreira, however, is no fool and even he must now be having doubts about McCarthy's ability to make a meaningful contribution during South Africa's forthcoming hosting of the World Cup. The McCarthy dilemma is heightened by the fact that West Ham currently have at least three strikers in Carlton Cole, Egyptian international Mido and Brazilian starlet Ilan who are ahead of the South African in the pecking order as the London club battles through the nightmare of retaining their Premier League status.
For all this, West Ham are unlikely to release McCarthy for Parreira's Bafana training camp in Germany this month in case he might still be needed for the pending relegation battles that lie ahead.
If McCarthy is not at the Bafana camp and not making regular appearances for West Ham, can Parreira, a seasoned coach with a conservative trait who is not known for gambling, stick his neck out on this occasion?
He names his squad for Germany on Thursday and in doing so might have a few answers.