Benni puts the blame on Safa

Blackburn Rovers striker Benni McCarthy has finally spoken about why he did not join the national team for two recent friendly matches against Norway and Portugal.

In the latest issue of Soccer Laduma, McCarthy says he did his part and that South African Football Association (Safa) should have done theirs.

‘Of course I told them [Safa] what the situation was. I spoke to the manager. I spoke to the team doctor and everything was OK from their side.

‘The next day I was all over the papers for dumping my national team!

‘I got injured, I had a hamstring problem. I went for a scan because the club thought it was serious but results showed it was nothing serious. It wasn’t torn, but there were little fibres that were aggravated that had I played could have led to me tearing a muscle in my thigh or tearing my hamstring,” he explains the injury that stopped him from joining Bafana Bafana.

The Cape Town-born marksman feels the lack of support he
received from Bafana officials lead to him being slated by the media and fans alike for not honouring the call-up.

‘I mean, come on! You know, as far as I’m concerned, I did my part, they had the facts, they knew why I didn’t come and if they don’t want to protect me or defend me then I accept that and it’s out of my hands what gets said about me in South Africa.

Rovers gave their number 10 permission to join Bafana but he refuses to play with pain-numbing injections which were apparently recommended.

‘Yes, they said I could take an injection which would numb the pain and I would be able to play. I ain’t taking injections to play for nobody.”

‘Santana [national team coach Joel Santana] never told
me I had to come and get looked at by the national team doctor. Nobody said that.

‘To me it seemed like they took my word for it and besides, I don’t need to make up a story about having an injury,” he justified why he did not travel to South Africa for the first friendly against Norway that Bafana won 2-1.

McCarthy says he wants to be fit for the Confederations Cup and that is why he also did not want to take a chance with his injury.

‘I can’t afford to be out for six months with a torn hamstring, trying to recover quickly so that I can arrive at the Confed Cup in one piece.

‘I want to come to the Confed 100%, no niggles, confident in my body that I can do the job for my country.”

Hardly two weeks after setting aside national team duty, the Rovers top scorer — 11 goals to his credit in all competitions — played a full game and scored in Rovers’ 2-1 win against Tottenham Hotspurs last Saturday.

‘I lived at the club for the last 10 days and when you spend 10 hours at the club each day rehabbing the injury, getting the proper machines on your injury, then you are going to heal quicker.

‘On the day of the game I still felt a little something, but my club is not in a position to be losing any games and all the players are needed. The club staying up is vital because it’s the livelihood of a lot of people,” he explained why he could turn in a good performance for the Riversiders who are 14th on the English Premiership table.

With Benni — as he is popularly known — seemingly fit and confident of playing in the Confederations tournament in June, it’s up to the coach to call up or shelve the 74 time-capped hitman who can, no doubt, produce the goods when needed, or is that, when he wants to?

Red Star Belgrade striker Bernard Parker and Orlando Pirates midfielder Teko Modise are in good form for their clubs, so Santana does have proven goal scorers, but none can match McCarthy’s exploits on and off the field. — Sapa

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