Wanted: a striker to succeed McCarthy before Confederation Cup in 2009

2008-04-16 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Bafana are in desperate need of a new striker ahead of next year’s Confederation Cup.

That was the opinion expressed yesterday by the chief executive officer of the 2010 Local Organising Committee, Danny Jordaan.

Jordaan is happy with the progress that head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is making — while earning a monthly R1,8 million — in rebuilding the national team, but he is concerned that there is no successor in the wings to Blackburn Rovers striker Benni McCarthy.

Said a worried Jordaan: “Failure at the Confederations Cup, which we host as a dress rehearsal to the 2010 World Cup finals, is not an option. As hosts of the Confederation Cup and the World Cup, we must reach the second phases of both events. I believe the Confederations Cup will be an eye-opener and a massive test for Bafana. It will indicate how far we can go in the World Cup.”

Jordaan is right to be worried about Bafana’s lack of firepower.

He points out that the top strikers in the Premier Soccer League manage only about 15 goals per season. McCarthy banged in 29 goals for his English Premiership club last season and finished second to Chelsea’s Ivory Coast superstar Didier Drogba.

Said Jordaan: “The fact that the PSL’s top scorers — and many are not even South Africans — score 15 goals or less is a worry. McCarthy scored twice that many goals against some of the top defenders in the world and yet he did not win the England top goal scorer award.”

The defenders in the PSL are light years behind the likes of Chelsea skipper John Terry and Manchester United skipper Rio Ferdinand.

Parreira, a World Cup winner in 1994 with his native Brazil, made a vital breakthrough last month when he led his charges to a stunning 3-0 win over Paraguay at Atterigeville’s Super Stadium in a friendly. McCarthy scored during that friendly.

But Bafana’s first-round exit at January’s African Nations Cup finals in Ghana has hardly filled the public with confidence.

Said Jordaan: “I believe Parreira will succeed. His track record speaks for itself. But we will be in trouble if we have to rely on one player [McCarthy] to get our goals.”

Jordaan is right when he says Bafana face a huge test at the Confederations Cup. Eight teams compete every four years. That competition comes one year before the World Cup and will test the readiness of the host country to stage a successful global tournament.

Competing for the Confederations Cup will be Bafana, world champions Italy, United States as champions of North and Central America, Asia, which has a surprise winner in Iraq, 2008 African kingpins Egypt, South American champions Brazil, the European champions to be crowned after Euro 2008 in Austria/ Switzerland and the new Oceanic winner, which could easily be New Zealand.

The eight teams will be divided into two groups. The two top teams in each group go forward to the semi-finals.

But teams from the same continent, such as Italy and the Euro winner, will not be allowed in the same group.

At worst — or best, whichever way one sees it — it could pit Bafana against Italy, Brazil and Egypt.

— Sapa.

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