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Benni McCarthy admits he is unlikely to start for Orlando Pirates in their first home game of the season against in-form Platinum Stars tomorrow night, despite scoring after eight minutes on his debut last Friday night.
The 33-year-old, who scored with his first touch after coming on as a 62nd mnute substitute in the Buccaneers’ SAPL-opening 2-0 victory over Black Leopards in Polokwane, admits: “I'm not in a rush to fight for a starting place. I want to work myself in because I haven't played for a bit.”
He told http://www.orlandopiratesfc.com: “At training I feel completely fine, but when you play a match it is completely different, because the pace is much quicker.”
McCarthy’s effort in front of the Piratical ANCYL leader Julius Malema at the Peter Mokabe Stadium means he has scored more goals for Pirates in 30 minutes than he did for his previous club West Ham in 18 months.
And in case he has forgotten his nightmare R25m move from Blackburn to the Hammers in January 2010, their vice-chairman Karren Brady resumed hostilities with McCarthy in her diary in the Sun in England.
The celebrity woman-in-football, very vocal over having to pay-off the Capetonian as her club were relegated last season, said tartly: "West Ham's former scales-buster Benni McCarthy described me from South Africa as "a devil with tits". Nice of him. But Benni, I'm meant to have tits, you aren't!"
McCarthy will laugh off such jibes before tomorrow’s first game at the Orlando Stadium, where he alone will be responsible for a bumper turn-out against a side which crushed Ajax Cape Town2-0 in their opening game.
His weight is down, his knees appear strong and Bafana Bafana’s record goalscorer smiles: “I am very happy. It is a fantastic feeling to score on my debut for the club.
“Pirates took a big chance signing me (after he was given R15m to leave West Ham) and the fans have been wonderful. The Ghost made me feel at home and gave me more confidence. The coach, Julio Leal, introduced me on the pitch and you can’t feel any better than when you repay a club that has shown so much belief in you. I dedicate my goal to the Pirates family.”
As for his fitness – McCarthy was twice fined for being overweight at West Ham as he battled against a knee injury – Benni grinned: "In training, Tlou Segolela is so quick and it is really hard to catch up with him. When he goes down the flank you have to get yourself in goal-scoring position and do the business.
“But I think I have done okay for someone who hasn’t played for a long time.”