Benni McCarthy has said that then-Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira made excuses to leave him out of the 2010 Fifa World Cup squad.
McCarthy vehemently denied reports of the time that he and goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez had “entertained women”‚ allegedly with CCTV evidence‚ in camp for a preparation match against Colombia in May 2010‚ resulting in their axing from the squad.
With next week Thursday marking the June 11 kickoff of the first Fifa World Cup on African soil‚ McCarthy admitted he still feels a considerable pang a decade later that he could not terminate a glorious career playing in the world’s greatest sporting event on home soil.
“Yeah of course‚ listen‚ you think about it and every time you see something that reminds you of 2010‚ it does break my hearty over and over again‚” Bafana’s all-time leading scorer told an online press conference of the SA Football Journalists Association (Safja) on Tuesday.
“Because you’ve worked your entire life‚ entire career‚ from the struggles growing up in Hanover Park‚ and then surpassing that and having the career I had‚ going to Europe and succeeding there.
“You’ve done all that and played in two World Cups‚ and the one that stands out most that you were dying to be there‚ not just in Africa‚ but in South Africa – it does disappoint me still.
“I’ve got to thank the Brazilians [Bafana’s coaching staff] for that. But you know‚ you move on.”
McCarthy’s club career had plunged moving from Blackburn Rovers. He had put on weight and could barely get a game at new club West Ham United.
But a year later‚ in similar condition‚ he won a treble for Orlando Pirates and scored spectacular goals.
McCarthy feels he could have added something for Bafana as a finisher at the World Cup.
“They made it about me being unfit and overweight. Ja‚ I was maybe. But at training I stood out like a sore thumb [for striking quality]‚” McCarthy said.
“We had the quality‚ but from where I had been and what I had compared to the players in the squad‚ you could see a helluva difference.
“So maybe if he had told me I got cut because I didn’t meet the weight requirements‚ then I accept it.
“But if he says‚ ‘Ja‚ it’s because this one and that one are better then me’‚ then‚ ja‚ go fly a kite my friend.
“ … I worked extra hard just to get myself into good condition. So then you notice the quality even more.
“But I think it was to get back at me. There was a period where Alberto said he wanted to have a three-month training camp in Brazil. He wanted to convince the European players.
“And the first trip he made was to Blackburn Rovers‚ to see myself and Aaron [Mokoena‚ Bafana’s captain].
“The president of the club said there was no way in hell they would let myself and Aaron go for three months.
“So then Alberto spoke to me and said that if I put pressure on the club they would let me go.
“ … My bread and butter gets paid by Blackburn‚ my friend. If they tell you no then it’s no.
“… And I just said‚ ‘Coach‚ if the club doesn’t want to let me go then there’s nothing I can do about it’.
“So I think he felt‚ in a way that I wasn’t complying to him asking me to fight against Blackburn to go and play for Bafana instead.
“So when the time came that was the perfect opportunity to say‚ ‘Ja‚ he didn’t want to go and fight with the club for that three months. So here it’s the easiest thing to do for you not to make the World Cup squad’.
“So then all the excuses were there to leave me out‚ because of what was happening at West Ham‚ and I came back from injury‚ and didn’t meet the weight.
“And that wasn’t even the excuse they gave the nation. The excuse they gave the nation was I had brought girls to the hotel. Are they f-kkin out of their mind or what?”
McCarthy was the only South African to win the Uefa Champions League with FC Porto on 2004.
TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)