Benni benched for four matches

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Joel Santana, Bafana Bafana coach, has laid down ground rules for striker Benni McCarthy to make himself available for the team in future or lose out on the 2010 World Cup ticket.

To prove his seriousness Santana has barred McCarthy from the next four World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers starting with the match against Nigeria on Sunday.

The other three games that McCarthy, who has made it a habit to choose games, will miss will be against Equatorial Guinea and two matches involving Sierra Leone.

Santana, accompanied by joint assistant coaches Pitso Mosimane and Jairo Leal, had a one-and-a-half-hour meeting with McCarthy in Kempton Park yesterday.

The meeting was initiated by Santana after McCarthy indicated to them that he would be in South Africa this week, but to spend more time with his family.

Sowetan has learnt that he was only keen to feature in the high-profile qualifier against Nigeria, knowing very well that it was bound to attract a big global audience.

"The door is still open for Benni. But for the four games, we have decided to keep the same team [without McCarthy]," said Santana through an interpreter.

"It was a difficult decision. I respect Benni, this is the last time that we speak about Benni's problem."

For his part, McCarthy told the media that he was disappointed, adding that the "temporary ban" by Santana will enable him to sort out his family life.