S. Africa Drops McCarthy From World Cup Soccer Team

South Africa dropped record goal-scorer and West Ham United striker Benni McCarthy from its 23- member team to play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

McCarthy, who has scored 35 goals in 83 games for South Africa, wasn’t among the players named by assistant coach Pitso Mosimane at a press conference in Johannesburg today.

Players left out of the World Cup squad also include goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez from Arminia Bielefeld in Germany, Franklin Cale and Innocent Mdledle from the Mamelodi Sundowns, and Bryce Moon from POAK in Greece.

“We aim to go as far as we can in the World Cup, it’s a difficult group, but we’re ready,” said Carlos Alberto Parreira, the team’s coach. Parreira, who told the players of his decisions yesterday, declined to comment on those he left out. “It was a difficult and sad decision to make.”

South Africa’s physical trainer, Francisco Gonzalez, said in an interview with Rio de Janeiro newspaper O Globo that McCarthy was still “too fat” in spite of his inclusion in the provisional squad, the South African Press Association reported on May 17.

Last month the Daily Sun, the daily newspaper with the biggest circulation in South Africa, christened the striker “Benni the Boep,” a derogatory South African term for a beer belly.

‘Not to Be’

“I am proud to have been given the privilege to have been capped in the South African national squad, unfortunately this time it was not to be,” McCarthy said in a statement, according to Sapa. McCarthy said his role is now to help “support” the team.

Clive Barker, a former coach who guided South Africa to their only African Nations Cup victory in 1996, said he would have selected McCarthy in his squad. “I would have gone for Benni for his experience,” he said by mobile phone. “I understand that Parreira has standards that he had set. I have no gripes with him for not picking Benni.”

Bafana Bafana, as the team is known, extended their unbeaten run to 11 matches yesterday after beating Guatemala 5-0, a record victory for the side. The team rose seven places to 83rd in the FIFA Top 100 rankings for May, still the lowest level for a host nation. Brazil topped the rankings, ahead of Spain and Portugal.

South Africa plays Mexico in the opening match of the tournament on June 11.

South Africa’s 23-man squad:

Itumeleng Khune, Moeneeb Josephs, Shu-Aib Walters, Siboniso Gaxa, Matthew Booth, Lucas Thwala, Aaron Mokoena, Bongani Khumalo, Siyabonga Sangweni, Tsepo Masilela, Anele Ngcongca, Lucas Thwala, Steven Pienaar, Teko Modise, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Thanduyise Khuboni, Kagisho Dikgaco, MacBeth Sibaya, Surprise Moriri, Katlego Mphela, Bernard Parker, Siyabonga Nomvete.