Sipho Hlongwane
Sipho Hlongwane

Run Benni, run…

A moment of silence for the Bafana team caterers, please. Benni McCarthy’s exclusion from the World Cup squad must come as a dreadful blow to them. A dreadful blow indeed.

That’s my offering to the ever-increasing collection of Benni jokes doing the rounds. His must be one of the most inglorious career closures in South African sports ever. Benni McCarthy, once the darling of South African football, has been dumped out of the World Cup squad, and endured a day of misery as South Africans lined up to heap derision upon him and his flabby belly.

Getting dumped is never nice, and the pain can only be worse with a Champions League medal around your neck.

Was his omission justified?

Now, look. I’m in no way, shape or form qualified to hold an opinion on football (except to say that Chelsea are a bunch of useless mercenaries and Manchester United wet their beds, to the last man), but I do have one on Benni McCarthy. Such is the nature of football fanaticism. I watched Bafana play Bulgaria, Colombia and Guatemala, and liked what I saw. The team is gelling nicely, and I commend Carlos Alberto Parreira’s decision to form his team around a core of local players.

In any case, my opinion on Benni McCarthy: what can he bring to the side that Mphela, Moriri, Nomvete and Parker can’t? He’s fat. Did you see his lard when he took off his jersey at the end of the Colombia game? I averted my eyes in embarrassment. No self-respecting man who calls himself an athlete should look like that. With the possible exception of sumo wrestlers.

The Benni faction out there got quite militant when I offered this opinion. Their argument went something like, “you stupid blah blah blah experience yaddee yaddee yaddee technicality rant rant rant and Parreira is also stupid”. This, coming from a bunch of tractor drivers and junior accountants. Testosterone, a SuperSport channel and stupidity are a potent mix, I tell you.

So no, I don’t mourn Benni’s exclusion from the squad. In fact, I applaud it. It’s time chaps like Surprise Moriri and Bernard Parker stepped up the plate. Most importantly, I actually believe Parreira knows what he’s doing. And I think Fabio Capello knows what he’s doing by leaving Theo Walcott out of the England World Cup squad. I think Dunga knows what he’s doing when he didn’t pick Ronaldinho for the World Cup. I even have faith in Maradona (streaker tendencies aside), despite the fact that he left Riquelme out of his squad, because the Argentinian football association have faith in him.

But why would anyone want to waste precious tears on those who aren’t going to play in the World Cup? There will be time aplenty for crying when teams start falling out of the tournament – that much I can promise.

But the most important thing is that all of this will be happening here! Right here, in our backyards and street corners. The carnival is about to roll into town, and despite all the ways that Fifa has screwed everyone over, it is going to be one hell of a time.

Feel it, it is here! You know, like a gym douchebag flexing his muscles and making you touch his biceps.

I’ve said some nasty things about Bafana Bafana in the past. I take it all back. They have my full support. And to the militant wing of the Benni faction, with all your “Parreira will rue his decision” bitterness, sis on you.

Good luck to our boys. You have my fullest support. And trust. Break it gently.

  • Benzol

    “And I think Fabio Capello knows what he’s doing by leaving Theo Walcott out of the England World Cup……” and so has Ruud van Nistelrooy been left out of the Dutch team…

    Building a team is more important than giving in to the prima donna’s of this world. Individual skills are important but…..if the person with those skills does not fit in the team…? He should not be there.

  • Mzikayise Tshabu

    Big up my Brother well said and clear, the man did come when we need him the most i don’t see why there should be hard feelings with the fact that he is left out. for heaven sake he failled fittinest test.

  • BoyUninterrupted

    You’re gonna get bliksemed by the Benni faction for these comments. Ayeye!

    Oh and don’t forget about Benni’s tumultuous Bafana history. It’s been quite refreshing seeing him kissing hiney to be included in a squad he once had min interest in play for.

  • Geoffrey Chisnall

    brilliantly put!
    i agree…i was hoping he would not be chosen just to prove to him that he needed to have earned that place and he clearly blew his chance!
    i was just like you giving bafana bafana no chance in hell, but i must admit, everyone who disses the side, says they not good enough WILL be behind them come 11 june. we will all support the boys.
    but my heart lies with england…may this year be your year boys.

  • haiwa tigere

    I saw Benni stumble and fall a few minutes ago- why dont you go and kick him again?

    Thanks for the memories Benni. To all sports stars out there you are on your own. we are FAIR WEATHER FRIENDS

  • Michael K

    At least I’m not alone anymore!
    The selection of Benni to me sounded the death-knell of yet another failure.
    I railed and argued whilst also looking on and finding I liked what I saw under CAP!

    And lo and behold and bliksem nogal, the man had gumption and did not sell out to SAFA and fan-sentiment and finally, after umpteen disappointments I have a feeling we can actually make it to the last 16 whilst Obelix-Benni caries his menhir around.

    Now if only the team can discover some moral strength when being 2-0 down and fight the SA’n losing mentality (soccer that is) – then the sky is the limit.

    Here’s hoping, I won’t blow a blasted Jericho-zela but I will quietly cheer them on as this will be my last WC (age – you know!)

    Rock on…

  • Chris

    Those caterers will indeed be upset, hahahahhaa!

    Nice article man.

  • X Cepting

    Sipho, do you have bluelightsquadprotection? If not, I would suggest looking into it. I find it rather ironic that it took a Brazilian to teach Bafana how and an Italian to teach the English. But then, the South African speciality seems to be crying over spilt milk and the English, hooliganism, so I suppose we need the experts to teach us soccer 😉

  • Humbulani

    Good comment, I fully support that. Remember when Benni was nowhere to be found when we need him, telling the country that he earns more that they are offering him on the squard. Life is a circle so Benni just “make the circle bigger”

  • Geanann

    Perhaps Benni was but the sacrificial lamb on the altar of transformation. They had to include a token white and Benni had to go. A bit like the token black in the 1995 rugby world cup.

  • Michael

    Geanann, if Benni was the sacrificial lamb then at least there will be enough for second helpings.
    I doubt that you know much about either South African football or rugby. Benni is in no shape to play in the world cup and Chester was a hero in 95 (as a tryscorer and a nation builder).The only thing that is token is your archaic mindset. The question is, will you feel disappointed if South Africa succeeds ( in any way)? If they do, what are you going to have to be negative about?So “thanks” for your input, but next time keep your lame opinions to yourself.

  • MLH

    Losing your job because you are deemed too old and decrepit is never nice. I feel the man’s pain. Hopefully he will move on to other things that will rebuild his self-esteem. He’s has enough experience to help build self-esteem in our next generations; do hope he sees that opportunity and acts on it. He has found a place in the history books. Good for him!

  • Owami

    Totally agree!!! You see, if it were somebody else we were talking about, we would be feeling guilty for kicking a man while he is down. But this is the person that let us down a whole lot more times that we care to remember. he ranted and raved about how he would never play in Africa again. Well, guess what – the world cup this year is in Africa. So, ciao Benni.

  • johnsimonsy

    at least you are man enough to concede that you were wrong earlier.

    well done

  • match

    Strange Sipho,you arleady have labelled anybody who holds a different view as a Benni fanatic,whilst elevating your opinion to a clinical thought without really offering any substance.We cannot reduce this national project to just an issue of ego or you refer to it as a fat man.The point is :Parreira needs the best talent this country has ever produced.Benni remains the best striker available,even if you were to compare him to 3 strikers combined.If I were a coach I would have kept him as an optional striker,throw him in when things gets tougher,bound it is,if you consider kind of quantity strikers we have.If anything the man has proven his mettle,clinical when it matters.Pity from the crop of strikers I have seen(with due respect)neither comes close.His presence would have helped settletheir nerves.That, he is not what he was 10 yrs ago is true,but the fact is: even though, he still rides roughshod over the too ordinary striking force we have.Again,ho do we explain absence of Nassif,who has proven himself at a highest level.Compare this with current defenders,good on possession but completely lose ideas once dispossessed.The discussion should be:how does SA ensures it has best talent available.Your take on coaches interesting and simplistic.History has it:Parreirs failed Saudi Arabia and others.Get serious,we deserve better,not this cheap egoistic ranting

  • MKT

    Sipho, your soccer knowledge is appaling – how do u say Mphela, Moriri, Parker are better than Benni ? Obviously you never saw great strikers like Anthony Yeboah, Mandla Sithole, Collians Mbesuma ,ndibala ntoni naa….such that then u can afford to discount and write off Bennie only on the premise that he is fat.

    Parreirra will leave to regret dropping Benni…as soccer analyst Mark Williams always advise strikers to “be in the kitchen” to score goals, Bafana will miss Benni’s skills in that regard!

  • Musa

    Benni has scored in two World Cups.He is our leading goal scorer.Pity he is not fit this time, thats why he was left out.We should thank him for his contribution.
    Unlike other soccer ‘legends’ he will not be queing at the SABC to be a commentator anytime soon, he has made enough.Hopefully the other players will do the same, we owe them nothing and they in turn owe us nothing.
    As for the othe coaches, Dunga better get it right or else he will never set foot in Brazil again.
    Whatever happens, Bafana Bafana is our team and we will support them to the best of our abilities.They are the best we have.It will be the biggest party the world has ever seen, win or lose.

  • Sipho Hlongwane


    At what point did I say the other strikers are “better” than Benni? I asked what Benni, in his current state, could bring to the side that the other strikers couldn’t.

    And fitness happens to be one of those things that can make or break a great football player. Remember Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima (Brazilian Ronaldo)? His weight issues destroyed his career.

    If Benni was fit, I’d be the first to call for his inclusion in the squad. He isn’t. He can’t play. It’s that simple.

  • eric

    thanks so much to such grateful ice-breaker on the Benni mourning moment. I take one point to agree with from your column. one Benni being an athlete he is not suppose to get out of the athletic body as an international player. what it is being an international player? doesn’t mean that you look after your body. anyway inevitable as a player of high magnitude you expected to take exercise as your errand, above all Benni knew that world cup was announced 8 years back to come to South Africa. luckily for SA did not have to compete for space in the world cup since as SA we are the hosts so why Benni did not take it upon himself to be read for competition in the Bafanax2 last 23 man. lets all admit that Benni has failed to compete then this tells everyone that he was not playing in overseas despise that others would say he was injured. no sweat not pay , take what you deserve. Benni has just become too complacent as SA dearest football star.he must wake up on his Laurent no favors based on the previous records, no one must get tax payer’s money for free except politicians that is true. no hard feelings against him I respect him so much, i wish him speed recovery on performance. lets swallow it though its bitter.

  • Lehlohonolo Phadima

    @Haiwa tigere, Spot-on! I just don’t understand this evil excitement over Benni’s misfortune. He’s after all human and as fallible is Sipho, you and I. Yes, Benni was not fit to be selected, and i’m sure he also knows this. So can we get on with the world cup (without benni this benni that) ALREADY?!

  • Alpheus Sipho Lukhele

    I am happy Benni is not in Bafana team. The guy was once too arrogant and now he wants to come back? He had his time to shine and I do not fore see him doing magic like Ronaldo in the last World cup. I just wonder how Mokoena managed to survive the chop!

  • match

    Sipho,simply you cannot substitute quality for anything.You may be a best athlete and committed but if you don’t score goals,well these attributes are just hollow.This is exactly the problem we have in SA.SA is not Brazil.You can easily leave out Ronaldino because of the abundance of talent.SA does not have this privilege.Ronaldo’s career was not necessarily destroyed by weight issues but better substitute strikers.he could still bang in the goals.I am not arguing shape is not important.Benni has rare scoring qualities which current strikers don’t have.Our main man Mphela and Parker are half cooked for now.Nomvethe is a joke considering his experience.Look at the Italian ageing Zambrotta,how about Del Pierro,it is about capacity and quality.It explains the reason why Italians understand basics of a winning team.We could have kept Benni in camp,whip his weight to line.Get him to do what he knows best.We always would be chasing shadows,reducing ourselves to minnow ego issues,claiming best athletes but not winning.

  • Tony Krijger

    The same happened with the great Maradonna when he got fat and unfit. Benni should have done the right thing and withdrawn…

    And we should remind those “fairweather” friends that many was the time Benni was chosen for his country and he either never turned up, or invented an injury so he could play for his club.

  • MKT

    Sipho, in your own words: “Benni McCarthy: what can he bring to the side that Mphela, Moriri, Nomvete and Parker can’t? ” Is this not tantamount to say these 4 M(uuu)s are better than Benni ? You are making a comparison of the 5, and u relegating Benni to number 5 in the perkings!!

    A fat Benni is still better than these whole lot combine, as Mark Gleeson wrote in today’s M&G. And Carlos Amato wrote somewhere, however arrogant as he is, he didn’t deserve this kind of sent-off from the national team.

    Benni’s experience and finishing ability will be sorely missed in this tourney.

  • Benzol

    Sunday morning on News24:

    “Bafana Bafana star Benni McCarthy – who is married – was left out of the final World Cup team after he apparently entertained women in the early hours of the morning in his luxury hotel room in Sandton.

    This was also the reason why goalkeeper Rowen Fernandes was cut from the team.”

    Benni was too fit.

  • http://deleted Bob Elder

    Why the criticism of Benni because he’s carrying a bit of weight? He’s not there to be voted SA’s sexiest man but to score goals – and this he has proven he can do at the top level.
    There was another little fat man who, in the course of a long international career, managed to score an average of one goal per game. His name was Puskac, and I was privileged to watch him demonstrate his craft aginst Eintracht many (many) years ago. And I can’t recall his equally brilliant teammate, di Stefano, being particularly slim (although they had more dignity than to rip off their shirts in those days, so who knows?)

  • Thandinkosi Sibisi

    We need to get a few things straight before we ridicule Bennie as one big tub of lard.

    Firstly why were “has been” strikers like Benny and Nomvete even considered in the first place? Answer: Because we do not have strikers who would even qualify for third division in a respectable league.

    When Benny was summoned, it was common knowledge that he was not fit , and well past his champions league glory days.Why was he summoned ? Out of desperation?

    I hold no brief for Benny , but I feel this time round he was not treated fairly.Whatever you may think of him, he has done much more than the likes of Moriri and Mphela can ever hope to achieve.

  • Sipho Hlongwane

    Thandinkosi Sibisi:

    Mahlase, I will make one concession. I don’t think Parreira needed to bring Benni all the way down here to find out that he was completely unfit. Maybe he could have played a game or two. Maybe Benni helped make Parreira’s mind up when he was caught sneaking women into his hotel room. Which was unbelievably stupid of him.

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