'I am determined'

Benni McCarthy is desperate to represent South Africa in his homeland at this summer's FIFA World Cup.

The Bafana Bafana all-time record goalscorer admitted he has struggled with injury and fitness issues over the past few months, but insisted he would be ready for action when South Africa begin their World Cup challenge against Mexico on 11 June.

McCarthy is one of 30 players eager to be selected in Carlos Alberto Parreira's final 23-man squad for what will be a historic tournament for the South African national team.

However, the 32-year-old revealed that he has found it difficult to recover from the groin injury he suffered on his West Ham United debut at Burnley on 6 February.


"Like every player I would like to play in the World Cup," said McCarthy. "I struggled with my fitness when I was injured in my first game for West Ham. I was out for eight weeks and battled to get back into the first team.

"The fact is I am fully committed to Bafana and want to play in the World Cup for my country. I am determined to do anything to achieve this goal. Should I not make the cut when the coach names his 23 players there will be no hard feelings.

"As a proud South African I will support Bafana Bafana if I am dropped because they represent all of us. At the end of the day it's the coach's decision as to who goes and who stays,"

Parreira, who visited Chadwell Heath to meet McCarthy in February, said the striker would not be considered for Monday's friendly meeting with Bulgaria in Johannesburg, nor for Thursday's meeting with Colombia at Soccer City.

Instead, the manager said the Hammers forward would feature in a friendly against as-yet unspecified opposition on 31 May - the same date on which Parreira will name his final 23-man squad.

"Benni arrived last week and was not in an ideal condition physically," said the Brazilian, who led his home nation to World Cup glory in 1994.

"We are working hard to get him fit and I will allow him more time to get into shape and he will play on 31 May. He has a special session with the physical trainer so as to help him get back to full fitness."