All Whites ready for Confed Cup

Benni McCarthy told Ryan Nelsen all about South Africa in anticipation of his Blackburn Rovers captain coming to South Africa for next month's Confederations Cup.

Benni McCarthy told Ryan Nelsen all about South Africa in anticipation of his Blackburn Rovers captain coming to South Africa for next month's Confederations Cup.

Nelsen will be crossing the ocean to be here as captain of New Zealand in the eight-nation precursor to the 2010 World Cup - but, of course, he won't be pitting his defensive prowess against his Blackburn teammate as he had anticipated.

The controversial McCarthy has been left out of contention for the South African squad after being omitted from a tentative list of 30 players as a result of his persistent habit of only playing for Bafana Bafana when he feels like it.

"From my point of view, it's a shame Benni won't be playing in the Confederations Cup," said Nelsen, "but I don't want to delve on the subject. It's a South African issue."

The All Whites, as New Zealand's soccer team are sometimes known, are the first nation to name their squad for the Confederations Cup. It is conspicuous for the inclusion of 17-year-old West Bromwich Albion striker, Chris Wood, among players who are generally unknown on the world soccer stage.

New Zealand, who are in the same Confederations Cup group as European champions and world number one-ranked Spain, Bafana and Iraq are adamant they are not simply coming to South Africa to make up the numbers - as was generally the case in their previous appearances in the tournament in 1999 and 2003.

Apart from finalising their squad before any of the other nations, the All Whites have also demonstrated their intent by arranging friendly fixtures against Botswana, Tanzania and Italy.

X