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.


  • Sipho Hlongwane is a journalist and columnist for the Daily Maverick. He is an avid fan of jelly beans, Top Gear, Arsenal and thinks that South Africans tend to take themselves a little too seriously. [email protected]


Sipho Hlongwane

Sipho Hlongwane is a journalist and columnist for the Daily Maverick. He is an avid fan of jelly beans, Top Gear, Arsenal and thinks that South Africans tend to take themselves a little too seriously....

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