South Africa Camp Focus – McCarthy amongst casualties as Perreira names World Cup squad

South Africa’s all time leading scorer Benni McCarthy was the shock omission from Coach Carlos Perreira’s 23-man squad for the World Cup. Facing criticisms over his weight and fitness back in England, it was announced the West Ham striker would be playing no part in the tournament after failing to make the cut along with five other players.

The illustrious McCarthy was not the only surprise omission from Bafana Bafana’s final squad. Amongst the ones missing out were Armenia Bielefeld goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez, at the expense of the uncapped Shuaib Walters. Defender Bryce Moon of Greek club PAOK was also left out despite playing a part in Bafana’s 5-0 win against Guatemala on Monday. Left-back Innocent Mdledle and Left-sided midfielder Franklin Cale were also ones that did not make the final cut. Perreira’s ambitious moves may have caused a few raised eyebrows, but those tracking the host’s preparation for the tournament may have seen it coming. As mentioned in the last edition of South Africa Camp Focus, McCarthy, known for his spats with Coaches and players, had reportedly fallen out with physical trainer Francesco Gonzalez in the wake of his arrival to the camp. The Brazilian was said to have been displeased about the striker’s weight as well as questioning his commitment to the cause after several late arrivals to training. Gonzalez has been a part of Coach Perreira’s staff for a number of years, and reports suggest that he was at the heart of the decision to leave McCarthy at home. South African FA CEO Leslie Sedibe also appeared reluctant to sit on the fence regarding the mysteries surrounding the former Blackburn Rovers player’s omission from the squad. In a press conference on Tuesday Sedibe listed “physical condition” as well as “discipline” as factors to the decision making process. But the hosts may not be affected by the loss of the striker as much as people on the outside may think.

McCarthy had originally been valued at £10m following a successful first season in the Premier League with Blackburn in 2006/07, becoming the league’s second top scorer with 18 goals. But as new managers and players came in, he was forced down the pecking order and after two and a half more seasons was transferred to West Ham for a fee of around £3m. He made his debut against Burnley in his side’s 2-1 defeat before an injury virtually ruled him out of the rest of the season. Going on to make another four appearances without scoring, McCarthy joined the South Africa camp overweight and out of form. Although known as Bafana’s prized asset for a number of years, Coach Perreira had previously made comments prior to McCarthy joining the camp regarding any egos being left out his plans. McCarthy’s last goal for his country was back in 2008, so questions were already rising back home as to how important he really was to the team. As to who the host’s can rely on for their goals, it seems like they have got that issue covered.

As Bafana’s preparation continues to go relatively unnoticed, so do the performances of some of the talent they have to offer. Katlego Mphela scored a brace in the victory over Guatemala as well as notching in the 2-1 win over Columbia last week. He goes into the tournament on form after finding the net 17 times for South African Premier League side Mamelodi Sundowns last season, and will be determined to showcase his scoring ability to the world on June 11th. Mphela’s goals have contributed greatly to the success of the hosts, whose victory over Guatemala on Monday stretched their ever impressive unbeaten run. It was a day of celebration for the home side and in particular captain Aaron Mokoena, who became the first South African to win his 100th international cap for the country. Their first goal came from the spot, Katlego Mphela dispatching after Gustavo Cabrera was deemed to have handled the ball 12 minutes in. Reneilwe Letsholonyane then got onto the score sheet with his first goal for country on 26 minutes. Suprise Moriri then made it 3-0 just after half-time with Mphela bagging his second soon after. Bernard Parker sealed the win for Bafana, adding a fifth on 83 minutes. The victory marked South Africa’s 12th game unbeaten, something which few nations can boast going into the finals. But whether they can extend it this summer against the likes of France and Mexico is another matter.

South Africa World Cup Squad

Goalkeepers:

Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs)
Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates)
Shuaib Walters (Maritzburg United)

Defenders:

Siboniso Gaxa (Sundowns)
Anele Ngcongca (Genk)
Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth)
Matthew Booth (Sundowns)
Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport United)
Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows)
Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa)
Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates)

Midfielders:

Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates)
Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town)
Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs)
MacBeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan)
Thanduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows)
Kagiso Dikgacoi (Fulham)
Steven Pienaar (Everton)
Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs)

Strikers:

Surprise Moriri (Sundowns)
Bernard Parker (FC Twente)
Katlego Mphela (Sundowns)
Siyabonga Nomvethe (Moroka Swallows)

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