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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 April, 2004, 05:57 GMT 06:57 UK
McCarthy hints at SA return
Exclusive by John Sinnott

Porto's Benni McCarthy
Porto's striker Benni McCarthy is ready to resume his international career with the South African national team.

A fall-out with former South African coach Shakes Mashaba led to McCarthy's decision to boycott the Bafana Bafana.

But the appointment of new coach Stuart Baxter has led to McCarthy rethinking his international future.

He told BBC Sport: "I would go back and consider playing for the Bafana Bafana. Baxter knows what European-based players have to sacrifice."

Joint-top scorer in the Portuguese league with 17 goals, McCarthy has also been a key figure in Porto's successful Champions League campaign.

McCarthy added: "Baxter is a new coach with new ideas. He is a European man and he knows what European-based players have to sacrifice to come to the national team.

"He has been in the situation where he has been a coach in Europe. He knows what the European based-players have to put on the line to play for the national team.

"He looks like a man of great composure and good character and he can do something really good for South Africa.

"If he has good plans for team, I would definitely go back and consider playing for the national team.

"The little bit that I have picked up from him he wants to create a better environment and communiation between the European clubs, players and the national team.

"I'm sure the European players will willingly want to come back and play for the Bafana Bafana."

Repairing the relationship between South African Football Association and the country's European-based players is a key factor in Baxter's plan for the national team.

"A player like Benni McCarthy would be important for any [national] team," Baxter has argued.

"The situation with Benni is not one that was built over one or two evenings but a period of time.

"I hope to take some of this tension away and help Benni make a decision with his heart."

South African striker Benni McCarthy
"If he's got good ideas and good plans I would consider going back"

SA coach ready for challenge
02 Apr 04  |  African

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