Benni McCarthy appears to be in no rush to secure a new club as he flew to Cape Town “to get keep fit and get his touch of the ball back” this week.
The 33-year-old, who has scored more international goals than any other South African, arrives in the Mother City in no apparent hurry to refute the “fat and lazy” slurs which followed him out of the exit door after 18 goalless months at West Ham United in April.
Even his agent, Rob Moore, appears relaxed about McCarthy’s laid-back attitude. He told my colleague Ed Aarons last week: “Benni has just got back from Disneyland.”
Aarons, now working for Sky Sports after his World Cup stint with the Citizen in Johannesburg, spoke to Moore again yesterday when news of Benni’s jaunt to Cape Town broke on Twitter. This time Moore said: “The bottom line is Benni is planning on coming to Cape Town for a holiday and he asked me to ask Ajax if they mind if he trains there to keep fit.
“We haven’t planned anything yet because he has been on holiday for the start of June so it just a matter of starting things up and seeing what direction we move.
“He’s on holiday visiting friends and you can’t spend 24/7 doing that so he wants to have somewhere he can go and get his touch of the ball back and that type of thing.
“Obviously certain clubs have certain targets in mind at this point in time so maybe a decision will only be taken in August. It’s still early days.”
Moore claims interest from clubs in America’s MLS and the lucrative middle-east, where Qatar and the United Arab Emirates offer big money to professionals looking for a retirement package.
McCarthy, so sharp during his days with Jose Mourinho’s Porto and Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn Rovers in his heyday, will train next week with new Ajax coach Maarten Stekelenburg to get himself back in some sort of shape, but both Moore and McCarthy’s twittering brother Jerome reckons no discussions have been held about a permanent move.
Ajax Cape Town CEO George Comitis, who saw his side go so close to the South African Premier League title last season, said simply: “No, he is not joining us. He is just coming to train with us while he is in Cape Town.”
McCarthy’s brother Jerome, who also works as a player agent, twittered: “My brother is coming to Cape Town tomorrow, but I do not know anything about him signing for Ajax.
“Maybe somebody found out he was travelling to Cape Town and made up their own conclusions, but he has not said anything to me about it.”
Jerome also mentioned Benni had elicited interest from Qatar and the MLS, but concluded: “That is all I know.”
As I told SABC’s excellent football commentator Sizwe Mabena on MetroFM’s Discovery Sport Centre on Thursday night, McCarthy can do better than that. Long derided by Bafana Bafana fans for his on-off attitude towards the national squad, this is when McCarthy should consider giving something back to the nation of his birth, confirming his reputation as South Africa’s finest modern striker.
Mr Moore rarely appreciates my views, but McCarthy is being presented with the perfect opportunity to end his career with a bang in the city of his birth. If he trains hard and impresses Stekelenburg, then Ajax are bound to make a bid for a man cast out of West Ham four months ago after twice being fined for being overweight.
Failing Ajax, he could even consider a move to Kaiser Chiefs if Knowledge Musona goes to the Bundesliga, as appears increasingly likely.
Chiefs general manager Bobby Motaung told the Sowetan: “It was a successful trip for the player who flew to Germany on Sunday and joined the team for the pre-season in Austria.”
Motaung confirmed TSG Hoffenheim have offered Chiefs R15m for Musona and that Amazulu’s Lehlohonolo Majoro is being lined up along with FC Twente’s unsettled Bernard Parker to replace Musona. But surely a fit, hungry McCarthy could do the job?
Moore admits: “One doesn’t rule anything out at this stage because we haven’t sat down so we will just have to see what happens.
“I’m sure there are a few clubs that would like to sign him. I think he needs to get all his holidays and visits completed and then at that point he can see what the right choice should be.”