Benni turns over new leaf
Jaco van der Merwe
Johannesburg - Benni McCarthy has turned over a new leaf.
Bafana Bafana’s controversial striker has given his coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira, the assurance that he will give his full co-operation in the build-up to next year’s Soccer World Cup in South Africa.
McCarthy trained with the South African team for the first time in nine months on Tuesday after a lack of commitment cost him his place in the squad for the Confederations Cup.
“I’ve grown up. In the past I shot from the hip and I apologise humbly if I was out of order,” said McCarthy, who turns 32 on Thursday.
“I want to start afresh and help Bafana achieve success at the World Cup. It’s every player’s dream to play for his country in this tournament.”
Bafana started training for the first time on Tuesday since Parreira’s return. They are gearing up for friendly matches against Japan in Port Elizabeth on Saturday and Jamaica in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.
The Brazilian spoke to the players for a lengthy period before watching a training match.
Parreira was worried that McCarthy may not be sharp after his lack of game time at Blackburn Rovers, but the striker impressed with his form. He’s looking lean and his stamina was also impressive. There is also no problem with his confidence.
“I have an instinct in front of goal and I will show the entire country that I’m still the best at what I do,” said McCarthy.
“I’ve watched all Bafana’s games this year and all they lacked was an experienced player that could hit the target. Like me.
“That is probably why I have been picked again – to come and score goals.”
McCarthy, whose 31 goals are the most by a player for Bafana, may join an elite list of players at the World Cup. He can become one of only a handful of players to have scored at three World Cups.
Goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs praised McCarthy for the manner in which he has moulded the team together since his return.
“He brought a vibe with him. His experience and personality makes him a leader on and off the field,” said Josephs.
“As far as I’m concerned, he was the missing link during our poor run.”
Parreira has called up striker Richard Henyekane and midfielder Lance Davids for the two friendlies.
Davids replaces Siboniso Gaxa, who had to withdraw due to an ankle injury, while Henyekane is in for Mabhudi Khenyeza.
Khenyeza was axed after not reporting for a training camp for the second time this year on Monday.