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By ESPN Staff

Much-maligned McCarthy commits to S.Africa

South Africa striker Benni McCarthy has committed himself to the national team after holding talks with coach Joel Santana in London.

The 30-year-old, often the centre of criticism for his outspoken personality, is determined to put an end to negative publicity by showing the nation that he is fully devoted to the Bafana Bafana course.

Only last month the Blackburn Rovers forward launched a stinging attack on the South African Football Association (SAFA) for their poor management and also labelled the team a 'massive shame'.

However, after helping his country draw 2-2 with Australia in London on Tuesday, McCarthy lent his full backing to Santana.

He said: 'The coach called me and the captain (Aaron Mokoena) into a meeting in London where he outlined his vision to the 2010 World Cup. He stated very clearly that because of our football profiles and experience, he expects us to lead the campaign forward.

'It was a positive meeting and frank. Coach Santana asked whether I can commit to availability throughout the 2010 African Cup of Nations qualifiers and to all games that I am called up to honour.

'I told the coach that I will be available because I love my country and I always show that in every game I play, just like last night.'

Despite not being on the scoresheet McCarthy played a key part in both goals and has called on the entire country to back the team.

'We have to be positive,' he continued. 'We have a bright future and the way we played against a good team like Australia showed that we have talent and direction.

'What we need now is the enthusiasm of the people of South Africa. The remaining qualifiers are important and are going to be tough, and we therefore need the support of all South Africans.'

Santana, who has struggled since taking over from predecessor Carlos Alberto Parreira in April, added: 'I met the two players and had a man-to-men talk with them about my expectations of them and the leadership expected from players of their football status.

'I'm therefore happy with the commitment they have made to the country's vision of a world class team for 2010 and to their responsibilities to South Africa.'

South Africa face a tough ask to qualify for the African Nations Cup in two years' time after a poor start to their campaign.

The 2010 World Cup hosts are currently second in Group Four, level on four points with third-placed Sierra Leone and one ahead of Equatorial Guinea.

With only group winners guaranteed a place in the final qualifying phase, they must still play Nigeria, who have already sealed top spot, and travel to Malabo to tackle the Guineans.


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