Benni takes aim at Bafana

Bafana Bafana striker Benni McCarthy blames poor team selection for the national team’s demise in world soccer.

”Massive shame! Big embarrassment for the players and the country. But things never seem to change,” he told weekly soccer publication Soccer Laduma.

South Africa are 13th in Africa, and 67th in the latest Fifa world-ranking chart.

”The past few years now we haven’t been getting the results that we wanted. We haven’t played the best football and we have not selected the best players that this country has.”

McCarthy is of the opinion that certain clubs and certain players get preferential treatment and that the best are not always selected.

”Well, it’s more about who you play for or who you are rather than your form at the time the national team is selected,” he stated. ”I think that if you play for certain teams then you get selected, even though you’re not good enough or not on form.”

The Blackburn Rovers striker questions why former under-23 captain Matthew Booth is not playing for the 2010 World Cup hosts.

”Why does Matthew Booth, who has played for all the junior national teams, who plays in a strong Russian league and who has all the physical attributes, not get called up? Just because he doesn’t play for certain local teams, he doesn’t get called up.

”South Africa don’t select their best players. If you play for Chiefs and Pirates then you get selected, regardless of whether you are good enough or not. But hey, that’s good enough for us, right? If you’re a Pirates player you must play in the national team, right?”

The former Seven Stars FC, Ajax Cape Town and Ajax Amsterdam player believes South Africa do have the players that can make the 1996 African Cup of Nations winner a force again.

”With the right player selection, based on merit, on what you are doing at your club, where it doesn’t matter if you’re from Cape Town or anywhere else in the country, and it doesn’t matter whether you can’t speak Zulu or Xhosa or any other language, [we can get it right].

”Where all that counts is that you have a South African passport and are willing to play, then yes, I think we can become a force. But no, this one doesn’t speak that language so he can’t come and this one doesn’t meet this requirement, so he is out. That is hurting us.”

In the last four games that Bafana played, McCarthy was suspended as he chose family responsibility before a national call-up. South Africa lost to Nigeria and Sierra Leone in those World Cup qualifiers.

McCarthy says he is available for selection, though.

”If the manager feels he wants to select me, he can select me,” the 2004 Champions League winner said. ”I’m available. If I’m not selected, it’s because they feel they can do without me, I’m not needed and I have to accept that and get on with my life.

The full interview appears in the latest edition of Soccer Laduma. — Sapa

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