Once were warriors

2010-05-30 11:03

Benni McCarthy has bemoaned the dearth of soccer talent in South


The West Ham United striker said that had most of his former

team-mates at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games been on the straight and narrow,

they would be part of the World Cup squad.

McCarthy, Aaron Mokoena, Siyabonga Nomvethe and Matthew Booth are

the only surviving members of the Ephraim Shakes Mashaba-led team.

He said the likes of Patrick Mbuthu, Steve Lokoelea, Abram Nteo,

Jabu Mahlangu and Manqoba Mkhize were talented and should have been guided


“I had hoped that we would get far as a group and achieve fantastic

things in life together.

“These were a limited edition of our generation and were out of

this world. With their abilities they would have gone far if they had kept on

the straight and narrow.”

McCarthy said Mbuthu was the greatest midfielder of their

generation, adding that other players had more abilities “than some of


“It’s a shame that we don’t hear about them any more. Chances of

some of us going somewhere were slim as we were just footballers with little

talent but with them they had the talent and the ability to play anywhere.

“If they had the same discipline and dedication they would have

played at the highest level.

“It is really shocking to see myself here and they are not here and

I am really proud of myself as I was given something, not a lot, but made the

best of it.

“But I am still hungry for moresuccess.”

McCarthy was also full of praise for the current crop of players in

the national team, saying they had matured beyond his imagination and conceded

that even his position was under threat.

“They have stepped up their game and are impressive to the extent

that no one’s position is guaranteed.”

He said striker Katlego Mphela had come of age and deserved a

chance to play at a higher level.

McCarthy could not stop talking about Surprise Moriri’s


“Surprise is the player I like most because he brings something to


“For a moment you’d think he is not there and he would surprise you

because his ability and thinking are out of this world.”

He also had a word about Nomvethe, saying his unpredictability made

him one of the best.

McCarthy, who could be playing in his third World Cup if he makes

it into the 23-man squad, said it would be a great achievement and a special

event for him, especially as he would be playing in his home country where

everything started.

“It is inspiring and it pushes you hard to want to be part of


“Many great players have never had a chance to play a World Cup in

front of their home crowds, hence this one would be special.”

His advice to the young players who make the cut was to go out

there and enjoy it as the experience comes only once in a life-time for some.

McCarthy also had a message for the country’s detractors: “What

upsets me the most are the negative reports about South Africa, especially in


“We are the best country in Africa and we are going to host one of

the best World Cups to remember.”

He added: “If you are scared of our country don’t come and don’t be

part of the world-beating experience.”

McCarthy is crossing his fingers that he will make the final 23 for

the World Cup team.

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