CONTROVERSIAL Bafana Bafana forward Benni McCarthy finally spoke to the media yesterday after failing to arrive at a conference on Tuesday.
The West Ham striker admitted that he was desperate to be in Bafana Bafana's final 23-man World Cup squad.
McCarthy, who has been the subject of negative reports this week after he skipped the media briefing, denied charges that his behaviour created the impression that he considered himself more important than other players.
He said he skipped Tuesday's media briefing because he was attending to family issues but would not divulge what those issues were.
"I am just an individual who is a part of the group that wants to represent millions of South Africans. I want to be a part of the success that we are all trying to achieve as a country. I do not think I am more important than other players," McCarthy said.
This was in sharp contrast to his bombast two months ago when he declared that he was the best and Bafana needed him more.
Bafana's all-time leading goalscorer maintained that his focus was on making it into coach Carlos Alberto Parreira's final squad for the World Cup that kicks off in 20 days. Parreira will announce the final squad on May 31.
McCarthy has not allowed the negative headlines to distract him. On his relationship with physical trainer Francisco Gonsalvez, who commented to a Brazilian newspaper that McCarthy was overweight, the player said: "My relationship with him is good. There was never any problem between us.
"The headlines have not tempered my preparations. My purpose for coming here is to work hard. Everyone in the team is working hard to be in that final squad," he told reporters in Johannesburg. "I have been fortunate to achieve things in my career but the past is the past. I am still very hungry, competitive and have things in my career that I still want to achieve."
Should he not make it into the final squad, the 32-year-old forward said he will still root for Bafana in the quadrennial showpiece.
"The group that gets selected will represent the country well. If I don't make it, I will be 100percent behind the guys. But as a footballer, missing the biggest stage like the World Cup will be hard," he admitted.