”Yo-yo man” Benni McCarthy is back in the Bafana Bafana squad to play Paraguay on March 26 — strengthening the suspicion that the enigmatic striker requested coach Carlos Albero Parreira not to include him in the squad for the recent African Nations Cup tournament in Ghana.
Ironically, McCarthy is likely to find himself in opposition to Roque Santa Cruz in Bafana’s friendly home international — with the dynamic Paraguayan striker the player who has displaced McCarthy as top Blackburn Rovers scorer this season and caused the South African to be relegated to the bench for several games.
It was in this shaky situation, with McCarthy’s position in jeopardy in the English Premiership, that it was suggested he had asked a compliant Parreira to allow him to re-assert his position in the Blackburn ranks.
For the rest, Parreira has selected almost all the players who emerged in Ghana as his first-choice contenders for a shadow World Cup line-up — with only goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez, seeking his best form following injury, and the out-of-form Benson Mhlongo absentees in this respect.
It appears that Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune has pushed himself up the pecking order after performing with confidence in a last-minute 2-1 win over Zambia at the Germiston stadium on Tuesday night.
Parreira announced the squad for the Paraguay game immediately afterwards — and included a number of newcomers as back-ups for his recognised first-choice players.
With McCarthy back in harness, there is every possibility that Parreira will implement a 4-4-2 formation, with the leading Bafana scorer paired with Maccabi Haifa-based Thembinkosi Fanteni. Ã¢â‚¬’ Sapa
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Moeneeb Josephs (Wits University).
Defenders: Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn Rovers), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport United), Mokete Tsotetsi (Kaizer Chiefs), Bryce Moon (Ajax Cape Town), Nasief Morris (Panathinaikos), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa), Innocent Mdledle (Orlando Pirates).
Midfielders: Lance Davids (Djugardens), Thulasizwe Mbuyane (Free State Stars), Steven Pienaar (Everton), Surprise Moriri (Mamelodi Sundowns), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Golden Arrows), Bafo Biyela (AmaZulu), Bernard Parker ( Thanda Royal Zulu), Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Simphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Sthembiso Ngcobo (Free State Stars).
Strikers: Excellent Walaza (Orlando Pirates), Thembinkosi Fanteni (Maccabi Haifa), Benni McCarthy (Blackburn rovers).