By Keira Daley
1 June 2010
West Ham United’s South African striker, Benni McCarthy, his country’s all-time leading goal scorer with 31 goals for Bafana Bafana from 79 senior caps, has surprisingly been left out of the host nation’s 23-man squad for the World Cup.
The 32-year-old forward spent much of the run-in to West Ham’s Premier League season out of action after an ankle injury but he had still expected to be part of coach Carlos Parreira’s plans for this summer.
“No one’s place in the final squad is a given,” McCarthy said in reaction. “We all gave it our best and pushed ourselves to our limits to make the cut. In the end it comes down to a head count. I am proud to have been given the privilege to have been capped in the South African national squad; unfortunately this time it was not to be”.
The squad was announced on the South African FA (SAFA) website. It includes three players from the Premier League: Portsmouth’s Aaron Mokoena, Everton’s Steven Pienaar and Fulham’s Kagisho Dikgacoi.
Sixteen of the 23 players are with clubs in South Africa, three play in England, and one each in Israel, Belgium, Russia and the Netherlands.
Parreira said: “It was a very difficult and sad decision to make, some of these boys who have been left out have been with me since the Durban training camp in January but at the end of the day we have to follow the rules and regulations because Fifa wants only 23 players.
“My decision of leaving out these players was based on certain principles: physical condition, technical level, tactical knowledge, discipline as well as adjusting to the shape of the team. But I would like to say to them thank you very much for your efforts, don’t lose hope just keep your heads high and remember that you are not failures. This is also a sad time for everyone in the team.”
The SAFA cheif executive, Leslie Sedibe said: “In every corner of our country we are ready to host the world and fly our flags for both South Africa and Bafana Bafana. South Africans, have in their masses come out in support of our team. It touches our hearts to see the visible commitment when driving around, and more so to be met by the sea of yellow shirts every Football Friday.”