The tales of Benni McCarthy’s love-hate relationship with Bafana Bafana are well-documented, from the time he launched himself in the international scene as a youngster to when he would turn down national team call-ups, and sometimes, he would want to come but his club would not allow him, which is something Bafana head coach Hugo Broos is facing.
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This tug of war between clubs and the national team is one thing McCarthy would love to see being dealt with.
Before making his thoughts known about how national team coaches should handle their relationship with coaches at club level, he questioned Broos’ selection criteria. The Bafana coach announced his squad last week for the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, with some omissions and somewhat surprising inclusions.
“We select players who are not even playing at club level. Some have not kicked a ball for their teams this season but they are selected to the national team and we expect to be successful. Other national teams have local players who play week-in week-out, they don’t sit on the bench,” said McCarthy, who spoke at a media engagement with the South African Football Journalists Association.
“If the international players are not released, the local-based players should be good enough to carry on when other players are not available. As to how we select players, it sometimes boggles me because I see players who are there based on what they did in the Cosafa Cup and last season,” he added.
The all-time leading Bafana goalscorer is calling for coaches to launch a platform of communication where they will touch-base on a regular basis and monitor the progress of players.
“Clubs feel that they pay big sums of money to sign players and for them to release players to national duty, especially when they have to leave Europe and come to Africa. The [complain] about the long journeys because African players always have to take two flights and then they have to play and when they go back, they arrive a day or two late for a big match. So there will always be that reluctance from clubs to let their players go.
“Managers should have an open network where they are able to talk to each other and look at the importance of different games because if there is no relationship between the national team coach and the club coaches, then you are always going to find that problem. Sometimes, as a club coach, a player who is not playing in your team because he has a small injury and you don’t want to jeopardize the player’s career – is selected for the national team and he plays there,” said the AmaZulu head coach.
He added: “For this, club coaches feel disrespected because you don’t put your player’s well-being in jeopardy but he goes on and play for the country and when he comes back, you are now missing the player for two or three games because he went to the national team and aggravated his injury when he was on the verge of fully recovering.”