Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Benni's homecoming - fat or fiction?

Sometimes as a journalist you get the kind of quote that makes all the waiting around worthwhile. Having spoken to top South African agent Rob Moore on Monday about his role in helping Kenyan youngster Victor Wanyama get his work permit at Celtic, a quick enquiry into the latest situation on good-old Benni McCarthy produced this gem:

"I spoke to him the other day and he had just got back from Disneyland with his family, but Benni just wants to take a bit of time to decide his next move," said Moore.

Now if the image of Bafana Bafana's record goalscorer tucking into a cheeseburger served by Mickey Mouse isn't funny enough, the idea that a player who is approaching his 34th birthday will be able to waltz back into any team he chooses is even more laughable.

McCarthy's disastrous 18 months at West Ham United yielded precisely no goals and cost the Londoners £1.5 million just to get rid of him back in April. Runaway Championship leaders QPR were interested in taking the former Ajax Amsterdam, FC Porto and Blackburn Rovers striker on loan at one point but his failure to play a competitive match for more than six months now means it's very unlikely another English club will be knocking down his door.

A lucrative deal in the MLS or the Middle East had therefore seemed much more likely for a player who is still remembered by international audiences for his performances for Bafana and for Jose Mourinho's Porto in their famous Champions League triumph back in 2004. However, reports in South Africa on Wednesday say Ajax Cape Town have already held discussions with him and Moore about a return to his home city - more than 13 years since he orginally left.

That would certainly be interesting to see, although something tells me he would be reluctant to sign what will probably be his final contract in the PSL. Despite his heroics for the national team (he has scored 31 international goals, including Bafana's first-ever at a World Cup Finals back in 1998), McCarthy seems to have more enemies than friends in South Africa - mainly due to his perceived 'big-time charlie' atittude that was encapsulated by the infamous sulk during a training camp before the 2010 World Cup.

His refusal to attend a press conference because he had been upset about comments made to a newspaper by the squad's fitness coach about his weight was the beginning of the end as Brazilian boss Carlos Alberto Parreira eventually left him out of his final 23. Even though McCarthy was gracious enough to admit he respected the decison, the strength of public feeling against him in South Africa at the time will surely be at the front of his mind as he considers Ajax's offer.

Whatever he decides, though, Benni had better be quick. I last spoke to Moore about his most famous client on June 16 and was told he was on holiday back then as well. Five weeks of all-you-can-eat buffets will surely have taken a huge toll on any professional - not to mention one who has struggled so badly with his weight in the past - and with the majority of clubs in Europe and South Africa already well into pre-season, time is certainly of the essence.


No comments:

Post a Comment