Benni battling for finals

Benni McCarthy has been speaking of his determination to make the final 23-man squad for South Africa at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

With exactly three weeks to go until the host nation take on Mexico to get the finals under way, the West Ham United striker is working hard to prove his fitness. Having joined the Hammers at the end of January, subsequent injury problems meant McCarthy struggled to remain in peak condition.

However, he is ready and willing to make the World Cup cut, with coach Carlos Alberto Parreira set to whittle his squad down from a provisional selection at the end of the month. McCarthy, a talisman for his country with 32 goals in 78 appearances, was keen to play down the hype around his fitness and form.

"I'm just an individual that's part of a group and I'm no-one without a team," McCarthy said. "I'm just one man who can bring something to the team and be part of the success we are trying to achieve," he added.

"If I'm part of the squad, brilliant. And if I'm not part of the the group that gets selected, those are the players that are going to represent the country. And I'm a South African, so that makes me part of the country as well and they'll represent me too. And hopefully they would make me proud as much as they would make each and every one in this room proud."

The striker, who is unlikely to figure in Monday's friendly against Bulgaria, said he had no problem with debate about whether he will be ready or not. "Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. I just keep on working hard and if the people that monitor these issues are happy and see progress, those are the ones I report to. Outside that it's just everyone's opinion," the striker said.

"When I came here it was a bit tough to acclimatise, especially after coming back from injury. I've been here for a week and the training I've done has been exceptionally hard and you start to feel a difference. Now I go on the pitch and I'm starting to feel that I'm catching up very quickly with everybody else.

"Hopefully by May 31 my levels will be higher and my confidence will come back, and hopefully I can give the same performance."