Bafana stars sidelined

2009-03-02 19:34

Johannesburg - Back-to-the wall Blackburn Rovers are not looking to their Bafana Bafana stars, captain Aaron Mokoena and top scorer Benni McCarthy, to help them in the grim battle to avoid relegation from the English Premiership.

This much was evident over the week-end when Blackburn manager Sam Allerdyce left both Bafana stalwarts on the bench for the away do-or-die 2-1 win over fellow-relegation candidates Hull City, with McCarthy playing no part in the game and Mokoena coming onto the pitch for a mere seven minutes as a replacement for Senegalese star El-Hadji Diouf.

The hard-earned win elevates Blackburn from the three relegation-designated positions at the bottom of the Premier League log, but only by the fractional margin of a superior goal difference to that of Middlesbrough.

And the lack of match action of Blackburn's two South Africans can hardly be to the benefit of Bafana before the Nelson Mandela Challenge game against Norway at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium at the end of the month.

McCarthy, in particular, continues an unhappy tenure at Blackburn this season, with the striker's Indian Summer revival after Allerdyce replaced Paul Ince as manager seemingly running into stormy waters once more.

When Ince proclaimed McCarthy over-weight and not sufficiently fit for the rigours of the Premiership, the Bafana striker blamed his lack of action to a personality clash with the manager.

Now that Allerdyce has repeated the "fat cat" indictment of the talented, but enigmatic McCarthy and relegated him to the bench, it would appear Ince had no axe to grind - with the no-nonsense Allerdyce sharing the view that only 100 per cent committed players are needed to take on the battle of Premiership survival.

Mokoena, on the other hand, has long battled to assert himself as a Blackburn first-team regular, with his rare appearances being in the role of a defensive midfielder rather than in his Bafana role as a central defender.

Something that might well contribute to his modest form in Bafana colours at the same time.