benni works magic

HAIL Benni McCarthy!

HAIL Benni McCarthy!

That was the message from his Bafana Bafana teammates who strongly believe that the controversial attacker will return the national squad to winning ways.

McCarthy also sees himself as an answer to Bafana's problems in front of goal. He boastfully told a press conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday that he is still the best at scoring goals.

"Unlike other players, I need only one touch to score..." he bragged.

The Blackburn Rovers forward returns to the Bafana fold for their international friendlies against Japan in Port Elizabeth on Saturday and Jamaica in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

It was all about McCarthy at the first Bafana training session in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira was calling his name all the time. Cameras were following the Cape Town-born player all the way.

Mamelodi Sundowns striker Katlego Mphela said the presence of the all-time Bafana leading goal-scorer in the squad will give confidence to other players.

"Having him back is going to be a big thing for the team," said Mphela.

Orlando Pirates midfielder Teko Modise would confirm the sentiment when his own turn for an interview came, saying indeed "players look up to Benni when he is around".

Skipper Aaron Mokoena said: "We've been playing well but goals have been eluding us. Benni is back in the team, it's good to have him back. His experience will be vital for the team upfront as we pick up the pieces under Parreira to get back to our winning ways."

Left-back Tsepo Masilela said: "Benni is a world-class striker and will definitely help us rattle the net consistently."

Apart from the fact that the 32-year-old is South Africa's highest goalscorer ever, the other reason other players apparently look up to McCarthy, at least according to one of the younger players in the team, Kermit Erasmus, is that "he's a friendly, down-to-earth and humble person".

Said McCarthy: "We need to start scoring goals. I don't like to talk before the game, I always like to go in there and score goals. Scoring goals and winning games is what makes the supporters happy. We have to bring happy smiles back to their faces. I want people to understand I can still play a big part in South African football, it will help me secure a place in the 2010 World Cup."