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Benni beyond bungling Bafana

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Benni beyond bungling Bafana

by Brian Gaffney
12 Sep 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

While Benni McCarthy revealed that his broad experience of European soccer has elevated him to being Bafana Bafana's most talented competitor, his performance contrasted sharply with the mediocrity of some of his team mates at Newlands on Sunday.

What's probably more alarming as far as Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira goes, is that Benni was the only player to show the qualities of an international campaigner during a 3-1 defeat against Zambia in an African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier at Newlands on Sunday.

Benni's experience of spearheading the Blackburn Rovers' attack in the higly competitive and combative English Premier League shone through as he tirelessly attempted to revitalise Bafana in their first visit to the Mother City in seven years.

But the Cape Town-born goal ace's vision, deft passes and decoy runs were beyond the grasp of fellow striker Surprise Moriri and Papi Zothwani, whose incessant bungling saw him being replaced by Teko Modise before half-time.

A pussy-footer like Moriri who constantly avoids the physical challenges and the ungainly Zothwani are not ideal partners for Benni.

Nor will they provide answers for the 2008 Afcon Championship in Ghana in January or the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

The dismal performances of Bafana's current flank defenders, Cyril Nzama and Bradley Carnell, as well as midfielder Steven Pienaar suggested they need to buck up.

Nzama failed to adhere the basics of positional play to the delight of Katongo, who capitalised on the hesitancy in the tackles from Macbeth Sibaya, Zothwani and Carnell.

Nzama inexplicibly stayed out wide and never provided cover nor tracked Katongo on his devastating runs down the inside left channel. Ajax-Cape Town's Dominic Isaacs and Brett Evans may do better of given the opportunity to defend the flanks, with Evans' menacing crosses and free kicks being an added advantage.

Pienaar was ineffective and like Nzama failed to provide the necessary crosses for Benni, who reduced the deficit when he headed in a Moriri cross early in the second half.

Bafana kingpin Sibusiso Zuma missed the Afcon qualifier through injury, but his return to the side and substitute Modise's determined efforts in the qualifier could see Pienaar fighting for a place in the squad headed for Ghana.

Parreira dare not disregard the alarm bells...

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