Benni in race against time
Johannesburg - With World Cup selection for Bafana Bafana very much on his mind, enigmatic Benni McCarthy's transfer from English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers to West Ham is now faced with a tense race against time.
The fateful window deadline for transfers is at 17:00 UK time on Monday, February 1, and the wayward 32 year-old Bafana star will need to tie up the loose ends of a move from Blackburn in order not to find himself in a frustrating cul-de-sac regarding World Cup selection.
While West Ham and Blackburn have confirmed that a fee for McCarthy's transfer - believed to be in the region of R25 million - has been sorted out, other mandatory factors concerning a work permit and what is believed to be a reduced salary for the out-of-sorts striker have still to be settled.
Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has made it clear that he still values McCarthy's services in spite of South Africa's top goalscorer having only made a couple of unimpressive and sporadic appearances for the national team in the past two years.
But the seasoned Parreira is equally adamant that McCarthy will need to prove his match-fitness and current form in top level club soccer in order to be selected for the national squad when South Africa host the World Cup in little more than five months.
And the fact that McCarthy has made so few international appearances in recent years is a factor that could count against him having his work permit to play in England renewed.
Should McCarthy be forced to remain on Blackburn's books - and he has already stated unequivocally it is the last thing he wants - he could truly find himself in limbo insofar as World Cup selection is concerned.
McCarthy's limited fitness, form and recent lack of discipline - he has failed to turn up to training sessions in the last three days - has meant that he is unlikely to regain a place in the Blackburn line-up.
At the same time, McCarthy's behaviour will count against him when it comes to Blackburn releasing the striker for Parreira's World Cup training camps in Brazil and Germany.