I'm still the best - Benni

2009-11-10 16:02

Johannesburg - Benni McCarthy is back and is determined to do what he does best for Bafana Bafana - score goals.

The Blackburn Rovers striker poured his heart out at a press briefing at the Rand Stadium on Tuesday prior to Bafana leaving for Port Elizabeth where they will meet World Cup qualifiers Japan in a friendly at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 15:30.

McCarthy said he was heartbroken when previous national coach Joel Santana had dropped him from the squad to play in the Confederations Cup in June.

South Africa reached the semi-finals in that tournament, regarded as the dress rehearsal for the 2010 World Cup.

"I suffered a hamstring injury at that time. I was not playing regularly for Rovers so I thought that was the reason for Santana dropping me," McCarthy said.

"However, the strange thing is that Santana would phone and chat to me on a regular basis. Maybe that was because I speak Portuguese, but he never explained why he dropped me.

"I was hurting as it was the first time a major FIFA tournament was played not just in South Africa but in Africa, but I had to carry on and hoped to get another chance."

McCarthy, however, stressed he had never fallen out with Santana who made a lot of bad mistakes during his 17 month reign as Bafana head coach.

"I had a good relationship with Santana. I accepted his decision to drop me."

But McCarthy was like a breath of fresh air on Tuesday and said he was grateful for the opportunity to be back in the Bafana squad. He also apologised to former SA Football Association vice-president Mohamed Mubarak, with whom he had a major fallout after the African Nations Cup finals in Egypt in 2006.

Mubarak blamed McCarthy for the fact that Bafana crashed out in the first round of that tournament.

"I have matured. In the past I was loose cannon. I apologise if I was wrong," McCarthy said.

"I want to start afresh and help Bafana do well in the World Cup finals."

He also promised that if new coach Carlos Alberto Parreira gave him a chance against Japan on Saturday, and Jamaica in Bloemfontein next Tuesday, he would not let the country down.

"I am still the best at what I do, and that is scoring goals," McCarthy said.

"I have the gift that, unlike other players, I need only one touch to score. I have an instinct in front of goals and I will show the country I am still the best at what I do."

McCarthy added that he was impressed by South Africa's recent performances despite their run of poor results.

"I have watched every match this year. All that was lacking was experience - somebody like me to stick the ball in the back of the net," he said.

"That is probably why I have been called back - to finish off the goals."

McCarthy admitted, however, that there was a lot of pressure on Bafana to bounce back under Parreira after eight defeats in their last nine matches under Santana.

"This is a good Bafana squad. It is every player's dream to play for his country at the World Cup," he said.

"I am getting older and my legs are slowing down. The older you get the harder it becomes, but I am working harder to keep up.

"I work extra on the side. I am mentally and physically strong and ready to play 90 minutes."

McCarthy said he would be looking for a transfer in January.

"In my opinion I am better than what we have at Rovers, but unfortunately the manager (Sam Allardyce) prefers a different style of players.

"I am not the type of player he wants and that is why I am not playing."

He stressed, however, he had no hard feelings towards Rovers or Allardyce. He also said he was honoured to be linked with a move to Portsmouth.

"Portsmouth are going through a bad patch but are still a top side," McCarthy said.

"I have discussed them with Aaron Mokoena (the Bafana captain who plays for Portsmouth) and at this stage it is still a rumour. There are other clubs in England and Europe that have shown interest in me."

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