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By ESPN Staff

'South Africa should look to 2010'

CAIRO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - South Africa's key striker Benni McCarthy says his country are hoping to build on strong performances at the African Nations Cup finals to develop a competitive team for when they host the World Cup in 2010.

McCarthy, who scored the winner in Saturday's 2-1 victory over hosts Egypt in Cairo in a final warm-up game ahead of the tournament, said the young side picked to play at the tournament was inexperienced but full of potential.

'I feel that with a bit more time and some more confidence building results this is a side that can do well when 2010 comes around,' he told Reuters on Sunday.

McCarthy said South Africa's national side needed to win back respect after a dismal last 24 months in which they crashed out at the first round of the last Nations Cup finals in Tunisia in early 2004 and then also failed to qualify for the World Cup finals in Germany.

'It has been a big setback for our football but we need to get back to the top again quickly to make sure that we can achieve something in 2010,' he said.

'I think at least 90 percent of the players who are here at the Nations Cup have a very good chance of making the squad in 2010.'

Saturday's win, he added, was the perfect morale booster for the team's opening game at the Nations Cup finals against Guinea in Alexandria on Jan. 22.

'The guys will now be a lot more confident and will know we have a chance to beat Guinea in that game.

'There is a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the older guys like myself but we can help these youngsters,' added the FC Porto player, who with 28 goals is now just one shy of South Africa's international goal scoring record held by the now retired Shaun Bartlett.

As for his own chances of playing in 2010, McCarthy added with a laugh: 'There is an outside chance. Maybe I would like to give the youngsters a chance. No, in fact if I'm still around, I'd love to play in 2010 and even captain the side.'

South Africa will be the first African country to host the World Cup.