benni told to get in shape

OVERWEIGHT Benni McCarthy must play regular club football to earn a place in the Bafana Bafana 2010 World Cup squad.

Bafana coach Alberto Carlos Parreira advises his No 1 striker to leave English Premiership side Blackburn Rovers, where he is not playing regularly, and find a club that will give him enough game time.

"Benni is not in his usual physical condition at the moment because he has not been playing regularly at club level. I don't think it is a good idea for a top striker of his calibre to be in the reserve team or not play at all," Parreira said.

"I read in the media during the week that he has hinted (at) a move to a club where he will play regularly. It would be good for him to make such a move during the coming registration window period. Playing regularly at club level will enhance his chances of being part of the World Cup squad. This is my advice to him but I will not force him to change clubs."

The Brazilian mentor still has high hopes of McCarthy spearheading Bafana's attack despite failing to deliver on his threat of a dramatic return to the national squad after a nine-month absence.

At a media briefing last week McCarthy said he was happy to be back at Bafana, and promised to do what he knows best - score goals - in the games against Japan in Port Elizabeth on Saturday and tomorrow's match against Jamaica in Bloemfontein.

McCarthy won the hearts of many South Africans when he declared that he needed only one touch to rattle the net. On Saturday McCarthy had countless touches but did not score.

It came as no surprise when Parreira finally replaced him with Bernard Parker in the 73rd minute.

"We need to give Benni more time, just like Teko Modise and Siphiwe Tshabalala. They are not on top of their games, but we will support them.

The training camps in Germany and Brazil next year will help us a lot to get all the players back into shape ahead of the World Cup," Parreira said.