Igesund: Benni in the Bafana mix

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Benni_derby5 Gallo Images Benni McCarthy of Orlando Pirates.

Johannesburg – South African soccer's prodigal son and top scorer Benni McCarthy is “in the mix” to return to the Bafana Bafana squad for the international fixture against Brazil in Sao Paulo on September 7.

This was revealed by Gordon Igesund on Wednesday after the recently-appointed Bafana coach said he had spoken to the 34 year-old striker who has scored 31 times in his 79 international matches for South Africa.

“After noting that Benni had expressed the desire to represent Bafana again, I spoke to him and told him I was encouraged to see he had not lost his penchant for scoring goals since joining up with Orlando Pirates last season,” Igesund said.

“I also said if he was fit enough for the arduous ordeal of international soccer, and entusiastic about playing for Bafana, I would certainly consider him for selection when I choose the players to go to Brazil.”

The Bafana coach said he had seen with a mixture of anger and disbelief the newspaper report quoting him as saying when he chose the players for the Brazil game, that McCarthy would be number one on the list.

“In the first instance I never as much as spoke to the author of the story,” he said.

“Secondly I would never make such an irresponsible comment about any player – let alone one who has been out of international football going on for three years now.

“I was so incensed I contacted the editor of the newspaper concerned, and was offered an apology. I was also told the writer of the irreponsible article would be disciplined. But, of course, the damage remains.”

McCarthy's career took a nose-dive in the English Premier League three years ago after two successful seasons with Blackburn Rovers.

A transfer to West Ham United ended with the London club buying out his contract prematurely, while claiming he had not made the necessary effort to lose weight and get fit enough for top-level football.

His career with Bafana, during which he made himself unavailable for a number of fixtures, finally came to a halt when then-coach Joel Santana axed him prior to the 2009 Confederation Cup and he was left out of the 2010 World Cup squad in South Africa, to signal what then seemed the end to his international career.

However, he made a successful comeback with Orlando Pirates upon returning to South African soccer last season and displayed a knack for scoring important goals.

But in an era when Bafana are going through a costly and disturbing goal drought, Igesund is clearly giving conditional consideration to recalling the striker, who could still have a lot to add to the national side. – Sapa

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