fast little loans
Johannesburg – As it turned out, the Soweto derby came just a week too soon for Benni McCarthy.
Orlando Pirates coach Roger de Sa confirmed on Thursday that the 35-year-old striker is in his squad for Saturday’s African Champions League clash with Zanaco in Lusaka.
McCarthy missed out on Saturday’s goalless draw with Kaizer Chiefs, despite declaring himself as ready to play on his club’s website, a move quickly quashed by his coach.
This time, however, McCarthy has shown sufficient recovery from his knee injury to make the grade.
“He’s in the squad,” said De Sa yesterday.
“He had a very good training session on Monday, and then a very, very good one on Tuesday. Today he also completed the session … there is no sign of any pain.”
De Sa warned, however, that it was unfair to expect McCaRthy to be at the top of his game right away. The striker last appeared for Pirates off the bench in a 2-1 win at Maritzburg United on December 14.
“We’ve got to be fair, he hasn’t played for a couple of months,” said De Sa.
“You can’t expect a guy to be firing on all cylinders straight away. When we get back (from Zambia), he (McCarthy) will also take part in a reserve match to get a bit of game time and get his match sharpness.”
In McCarthy’s absence, Pirates have struggled a little in attack this season, with the likes of Collins Mbesuma and Takesure Chinyama only sporadically on song.
De Sa admitted not having McCarthy fit and available had been a big loss for Pirates.
“It’s one of the biggest disappointments,” he said.
“When I joined he was coming off a lengthy injury, waiting to get back, and when he did he got two more injuries. He is a special player and adds a lot, not just on the field, but also in the change room.”
Another player back in the squad for the Zanaco game is goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, who returns from a long-standing shoulder injury.
“He’s pretty close,” said De Sa on Josephs.
“I don’t think he is 100percent right now, but he is getting there. It is good for me at this stage of the season to start travelling with the strongest possible squad and to get them ready for the nine remaining league games. We need everyone.”
As for the clash with Zanaco, De Sa acknowledged that a draw would be a good result for Pirates to take back to Johannesburg for the second leg.
“Absolutely no doubt about it,” he said.
“We will try and see what they are like, for the first 15 minutes you try and assess as much as you can, and then you see how it goes.”
De Sa can, at least, field a full strength side in Zambia without worrying about saving his players for the next league game.
Pirates’ next Absa Premiership game is at home to Tuks on March 30, after the international break.
“Knowing there is a bit of a breather afterwards … all that helps,” he said. – The Star