/ 30 November 2007

SA ditch Benni for Nations Cup

South Africa have ditched star striker Benni McCarthy for the 2008 African Nations Cup in Ghana.

Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira also dumped first-choice defender Bradley Carnell and midfielders Delron Buckley and Macbeth Sibaya from a 23-man squad named on Friday.

Parreira, coach of the 1994 Brazil World Cup-winning team, refused to reveal why a footballer he had battled to get back into a goal-shy Bafana Bafana squad was suddenly surplus to requirements.

The coach, who has been in charge of South Africa since March, said he had not informed McCarthy, of English Premiership club Blackburn Rovers, that he would not be going to the biennial African football showcase.

Rumours swirled around the five-star hotel where the squad was named as to why the joint leading Bafana scorer, with 29 goals, had not made a squad to be captained by Blackburn teammate, defender-cum-midfielder Aaron Mokoena.

Some observers suspected South Africa struck a deal with Blackburn manager Mark Hughes to leave McCarthy out as Premiership clubs brace for a mass exodus of stars for the January 20 to February 10 tournament in West Africa.

When Parreira took over, charged with building a strong squad for the 2010 World Cup hosts, his first serious challenge was to woo temperamental McCarthy out of self-imposed retirement since the 2006 Nations Cup in Egypt.

McCarthy, who burst into prominence by scoring nine goals at the 1998 Nations Cup in Burkina Faso to help South Africa finish second, claimed he was wrongly accused by national association officials for stirring a bonuses storm.

Parreira eventually got his way after a five-minute meeting in England and McCarthy scored on his return against Zambia in Cape Town two months ago to draw level at the top of the goals list with retired Shaun Bartlett. — AFP


Goalkeepers: Rowen Fernandez (Arminia Bielefeld/Germany), Moeneeb Josephs (BIDVest Wits), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs)

Defenders: Vuyo Mere and Benson Mhlongo (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bevan Fransman (Moroka Swallows), Brett Evans and Bryce Moon (Ajax Cape Town), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa/Israel), Nasief Morris (Panathinaikos/Greece), Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn/England, captain)

Midfielders: Lance Davids (Djurgardens/Sweden), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Golden Arrows), Elrio van Heerden (Club Bruges/Belgium), Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Surprise Moriri (Sundowns), Steven Pienaar (Everton/England), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Chiefs)

Strikers: Lerato Chabangu (Sundowns), Thembinkosi ‘Terror’ Fanteni (Ajax Cape Town), Katlego Mphela (SuperSport United), Excellent Walaza (Pirates), Sibusiso Zuma (Bielefeld/Germany)