Benni off to Z.A. in January?
STAND by for West Ham United’s Benni McCarthy, who might be on his way for a stint in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League.
News has spread around South Africa this week that Mamelodi Sundowns could be lining up Bafana’s Bafana’s top all-time goal-scorer, McCarthy, to the club during the open window period.
Sundowns may have in their armoury a potent strike-force of Katlego Mphela, Nyasha Mushekwi, Richard Henyekane and Mabhudi Khenyeza, but an ambitious team like the “Brazilians” will not sniff at the prospect of securing the services of a quality striker like the former Blackburn Rovers, Ajax Amsterdam and FC Porto marksman if he is available – and provided the price is reasonable.
Club president Patrice Motsepe has never hesitated to break the bank for quality players that have been available on the market.
This he clearly demonstrated when he signed ex-Coventry City striker Peter Ndlovu. He recently enticed former Newcastle United midfielder Matthew Patterson to Chloorkop.
But Sundowns spokesperson Alex Shakoane scoffed at the news and poured cold water on it; claiming they were not interested in the player and knew nothing about his impending move back to South Africa.
“You know every time people want to market their players they always link them to Sundowns,” said an exasperated Shakoane when approached for comment.
McCarthy is remembered by most South Africans as the boy wonder who wrote his name with gold letters in the hearts of Mzansi followers after scoring an amazing four goals in a single game for South Africa.
That was a 4-1 whitewash of Namibia at the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Burkina Faso. Now he is rumoured to be seriously contemplating returning to domestic soccer.
And although Ajax Cape Town as well as Sundowns are said to have been alerted to the possible availability of McCarthy, who is said to be at his lowest in terms of confidence at West Ham United, SuperSport cannot be ruled out of the mix especially with leading striker Anthony Laffor being a target of several local and European clubs. Yet SuperSport’s commercial director Jose Ferreira denied ever being associated with McCarthy.
“It’s the first time I hear about Benni’s availability and him being linked to us,” said Ferreira.
“I know nothing about his impending move back to South Africa and there is certainly no truth in rumours that we are interested in the player.”
McCarthy is said to be contemplating quitting the English Premiership due to lack of game time at West Ham, where he was heavily fined after he was accused of carrying excess weight. He was instructed to shed some weight, or be hit heavily in his pocket.
“Mamelodi Sundowns have been alerted of the fact that McCarthy could be available,” said a source close to the player.
“But obviously if there is no possibility of the player going to Sundowns, other clubs might find him an attractive proposition,” added our source of the possibility of McCarthy’s return to the domestic league that discovered the then precocious 18- year-old playing for now defunct Seven Stars in 1996. He was signed by Ajax Amsterdam where he was groomed and blossomed into a goal- poacher of repute.
He also represented South Africa at the African Youth U20 as well as Fifa World Youth Championships where he performed out of his skin, winning the confidence of then-national senior coach Jomo Sono, who selected him for the Afcon finals in 1998.
McCarthy went on to star for Portuguese giants Porto and his two well-taken goals that knocked out Manchester United from the Uefa Champions League as he helped Porto win the prestigious club tournament, is still talked about with fondness by many followers. The question however is whether McCarthy still has it in him to strike fear into defenders.