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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 May, 2004, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
McCarthy out of World Cup qualifier
By Osasu Obayiuwana
BBC Sport

Benni McCarthy
McCarthy's marriage keeps him out their World Cup opener

Striker Benni McCarthy will not be making a return to the South African team for their opening World Cup match against Cape Verde on 5 June.

Manager Stuart Baxter told BBC Sport that the player's impending marriage, which has been scheduled for the same period, made the FC Porto player unavailable for the game.

"Because Benni is getting married around the same time as the Cape Verde game, he won't be playing," Baxter said.

However, the English coach said that the FC Porto player's return to the Bafana-Bafana is not far away.

"I've spoken to the manager [Jose] Mourinho and Benni's agent and we have made good progress.

The media should be critical but they should be fair
South Africa manager Stuart Baxter

"I allayed his fears about us making McCarthy fly to far-flung places for [international] games which will leave him exhausted.

"I think if feels the conditions were right, Benni would like to return to the national team.

"But at the moment, I have to prepare for the next World Cup qualifier with the players that are available," he said.

Baxter was also confident that Manchester United player Quinton Fortune could be persuaded to make an international comeback.

Stuart Baxter during an SA training session in Bagshot, England
Baxter says he is looking to the future for South Africa

"[Manager] Alex Ferguson has not banned Quinton from speaking to us [about returning to the national team].

"He is happy [for Quinton to return to the national team] if Quinton's happy.

"Mistakes have been made on all sides and we need to look at the path to the future," Baxter said.

With no international managerial experience before taking up the Bafana-Bafana job, Baxter said he is aware that the South African media are yet to make up their minds on whether he can handle the high-pressure job.

"Before I got to South Africa, the hairs on the necks of most journalists were understandably up.

"The media should be critical, because that's their job, but they should be fair.

"But if I was working in a country where the people did not care about their national team, I wouldn't want to work there," Baxter said.

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