Benni in the Bafana area

03 May, 2021 - 00:05 0 Views
Benni in the Bafana area Benni-McCarthy

The Herald

Eddie Chikamhi-Senior Sports Reporter

EXACTLY 20 years after he last visited Zimbabwe on a successful World Cup football qualifying mission, former South Africa international Benni McCarthy could be heading back for a similar task against the Warriors in the upcoming qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. 

Reports in the neighbouring country suggested at the weekend that McCarthy has agreed in principle to be the next Bafana Bafana coach. The 43-year-old, however, will have to see out the current season with his current club, AmaZulu, before assuming reins. 

The South African Football Association are expected to make an announcement this week. SAFA have been hunting for a new coach to replace Molefi Ntseki, who was sacked recently following an unsuccessful 2021 AFCON qualifying campaign. 

And, according to reports, SAFA have settled for McCarthy after they could not secure the services of their prime targets in former Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Queiroz and Pitso Mosimane, currently attached to Egyptian giants, Al Ahly. 

McCarthy is said to have agreed a salary and has demanded that he be allowed to bring AmaZulu work-mates Siyabonga Nomvete as his assistant and Moeneeb Josephs as goalkeeper-coach.

His tenure is most likely to start with an away assignment in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers against familiar foes — Zimbabwe. The two neighbouring countries are in Group G of the qualifiers, which also includes Ethiopia and West African giants, Ghana. 

Zimbabwe are set to host South Africa early next month in the opener. The Times of South Africa reported that McCarthy was among five names on a short-list presented by SAFA’s technical committee to the association’s National Executive Committee for a final decision. 

The short-list also included Portuguese coach Queiroz‚ Mosimane and Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt, with either Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard and Belgian Hugo Broos also in the mix.

But McCarthy, who has been getting rave reviews in the South African press for the way he transformed AmaZulu, appears to have won the race and could be the one heading to Zimbabwe in charge of Bafana Bafana’s World Cup qualifying mission. 

The former striker has turned the fortunes for AmaZulu in a short space of time since his appointment last December. 

The Durban-based side survived relegation by a whisker last season but with the arrival of McCarthy they are now running for a CAF Champions League spot after climbing top of the table at the weekend. 

The last time McCarthy was in Zimbabwe was in July 2000 when Bafana Bafana ran away 2-0 winners in a tragic 2002 World Cup qualifying match that ended with 13 fans dying in a stampede at the National Sports Stadium. 

Delron Buckley scored both goals for South Africa, with McCarthy featuring as a 58th minute substitute. The ex-forward played the whole match in the return leg at Ellis Park and scored a goal in the 2-1 win, on their way to the 2002 World Cup co-hosted by Korea and Japan. 

South Africa and Zimbabwe have met 15 times in competitive matches which include World Cup qualifiers, AFCON qualifiers, COSAFA Cup and international friendlies. 

Despite losing the only two World Cup qualifying matches they have played against Bafana Bafana, Zimbabwe still boast of a better head-to-head against their neighbours. 

Zimbabwe won seven of the encounters and lost six while two ended in a stalemate. 

But South Africa have had more successes than their northern neighbours who are yet to qualify for the global stage. Bafana Bafana’s third and last World Cup appearance was in 2010 when they hosted the event on African soil for the first time in history. 

They are keen to return to the global stage after missing the last two editions held in Brazil (2014) and Russia (2018). 

SAFA president Danny Jordaan has said the association will spare no expense in hiring the right coach for the job. 

McCarthy has emerged as the favourite in the South African football community following his fine run with AmaZulu. 

The unassuming Durban side shot to the top of the South Africa DStv Premiership table following a 1-0 win over Golden Arrows at the weekend to set up the stage for an exciting finish. 

AmaZulu have won eight of their last nine matches and are in a good position for a Champions League slot with four matches remaining in the season. 

They face stiff competition from defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns who are just two points behind and with three games in hand. 

SAFA were yesterday issued out a second media statement in two days, stressing that an announcement will be made this week after rumours linking McCarthy to the top job had spread. 

“We have noted that various publications over the last week have reported the appointment of new Bafana Bafana coach as having been concluded. 

“Firstly, it was Carlos Queiroz then Pitso Mosimane and most recently AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy,” said a statement from the association’s head of communications, Dominic Chimhavi.

“SAFA has always stated that the Technical Committee will submit their final recommendations to the SAFA NEC, the highest decision-making body, which will finally make the announcement once the process is concluded. 

“We note that the Benni McCarthy’s name comes at a time when AmaZulu are top of the log standings and it might appear that SAFA wants to derail the club’s good run. 

“We are happy with AmaZulu’s current good run but SAFA will announce the new incoming coach once the issue is dealt with by the NEC.” 

On Friday they had released another statement where they quoted the association’s chief executive, Tebogo Motlanthe, confirming that they had finalised their recruitment process. 

“We have concluded and finalised all the outstanding matters and we will announce the new coach next week. The two parties (SAFA and new coach) have resolved all matters and what remains now is to officially announce him next week,” Motlanthe was quoted in the media statement. 

Reports in the neighbouring country have suggested that McCarthy has agreed in principle to be the next Bafana Bafana coach although there were still some stumbling blocks to a deal being concluded. 

The major challenge was for SAFA to convince AmaZulu to release their coach‚ which could have been difficult as Sandile Zungu‚ the chairman of the high-flying Durban club‚ had said he will not release McCarthy. Bafana’s all-time top scorer was also adamant his loyalties lie with his club. 

“As delicious as Bafana sounds and all that‚ I’m very happy (at AmaZulu) and I love what I’m doing there,” McCarthy told the South African media. 

“I come in with the biggest smile on my face and when I see my players‚ and they give me the same joy. 

“My wife sees me and my kids see me‚ and so while I have that‚ I’m not hungry and my eyes are not bigger than my belly.

“So I’m very happy where I am‚ I love what I have‚ so whatever these rumours are when you do well‚ it’s just a shame.

“I’m very much with AmaZulu and my players know my feelings. My players know what I do every day in training. No big changes. We just work hard at AmaZulu.” 

McCarthy is in his second coaching job in the top-flight of South African football after cutting his teeth into the profession with a promising stint at Cape Town City.

Share This:

Sponsored Links