Friday, 29 July 2011

Will Benni Buc up his ideas?

A mention of the word hunger in reference to Benni McCarthy usually has the headline writers rolling out all the old cliches about South Africa's most famous footballer.

'Fat Benni throws fit' was my particular favourite last May as he refused to attend a scheduled press conference at the pre-World Cup training camp after hearing a member of the coaching staff had criticised the veteran striker's weight on Brazilian TV.

But with the man who won the Champions League under Jose Mourinho at FC Porto in 2003 looking destined to return home, Benni is big news again. And this time, he claims to be hungry for silverware rather than sandwiches.

Having spent the past week training where it all began for him nearly 14 years ago, McCarthy appeared to rule out a move to Ajax Cape Town in preference for one of the Soweto giants an exclusive interview with Kickoff editor Richard Maguire.

"I'm still ambitious to win more trophies," he said.

"Orlando Pirates are talking about winning the African Champions League – I could become the first player to win the Champions League in Europe and in Africa. That will be a special record."

And with Ajax having relinquished Thulani Serero to Europe, treble-winning Pirates would certainly offer him a  better chance of more medals, while Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns have also registered an interest. The question is whether the 33-year-old Benni would get in any of their teams having barely played a match for the last year?

Despite winning an unprecedented treble last season, Dutch legend Ruud Krol was relieved of his duties as the Buccaneers' coach by owner Irvin Khoza and replaced by Brazilian Julio Leal. That would give McCarthy an opportunity to stake a claim for a starting spot under the new boss, although you can just imagine the pressure quickly mounting if the reigning champions get off to a slow start.

Future Bafana striker Bongani Ndulula - who recently beat Siyabonga Nomvete's goalscoring record for the national under 23 side - has already welcomed his prospective signing and there is no doubt that McCarthy still possesses the ability to be a hit in the PSL. But with so many speedy young players emerging in South Africa's top flight, would Benni still have the turn of pace to show off his unparalleled finishing ability? 

Goal-scoring is certainly a department where the league has struggled in recent seasons and in the man who has scored 33 times at international level, whoever signs him will have a master of the art at their disposal.

Whatever happens, you suspect the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

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