D-Day for Benni and Nasief
Jaco van der Merwe
Johannesburg - Benni McCarthy and Nasief Morris will know on Thursday whether they are part of coach Carlo Alberto Parreira’s plans for next year’s World Cup soccer tournament.
South Africa will pick a squad for the first time on Thursday since Parreira took over the reins from compatriot Joel Santana.
Bafana play Japan in Port Elizabeth next Saturday and Jamaica in Bloemfontein three days later.
McCarthy and Morris, who play their football in England and Spain respectively, are two of a few South Africans that play in top European leagues.
They were regulars in Parreira’s first term as coach, but Santana dropped them on the eve of the Confederations Cup because of disciplinary reasons.
Santana picked two other “bad boys” in Mabhudi Khenyeza and Sthembiso Ncgobo, but refused to pick Morris and McCarthy again. This is in spite of McCarthy being Bafana’s top striker and the team only being able to score one goal in its last five games.
Former Bafana captain Neil Tovey has called on Parreira to pick Morris.
“We need our best players and Morris is a quality player. The criteria for team selection has to be merit, ability and form, and Morris measures up on all three,” Tovey told SAPA.
“If Benni will be committed, there is no reason why he should not return. We need all the experience at our disposal for the World Cup.”
McCarthy’s ambition to play in the World Cup was clear this week when he revealed that he intended leaving Blackburn Rovers for Portsmouth so that he can play more games.
Parreira will arrive in South Africa today, but will not address the media during the team announcement. He will only be introduced to the media in Johannesburg on Friday night.
Soccer bosses decided this week to move Bafana’s clash with Japan to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
The official reason is to allow games to be hosted at World Cup stadiums prior to next year’s tournament. However, it is believed that the change was prompted by a request from Japan.
The Rand Stadium will only be a training field in 2010, while the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium was built for the World Cup.
The match would have initially been played in Durban’s new Moses Mabhida Stadium, but it is not yet ready.
It was moved to the Orlando Stadium in Soweto after that, but the playing surface was not up to scratch. The Rand Stadium had been earmarked for the Japan game prior to the latest development.