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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
McCarthy praises Sono
Benni McCarthy scores against Spain
McCarthy is confident about South Africa's future

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Benni McCarthy has commended manager Jomo Sono for selecting him for the World Cup squad, despite criticism by the South African media.

"Before I came to the World Cup, I didn't believe in myself because I was being criticised by people in South Africa.

South Africa side Jomo Sono
Sono selected McCarthy despite criticism

"Jomo ignored all that and restored my confidence," McCarthy said.

"He didn't just give the team hope. He made us believe that we can play well.

"The players responded brilliantly to him at the tournament," McCarthy said.

Not pushovers

Despite their exit from the World Cup, McCarthy said South Africa's performance has shown they are a team that must be taken seriously.

"We have proved that we can play against the best teams in the world," McCarthy said.

Reflecting on the 2-3 loss to Spain, he said they failed to make the most of their opportunities.

"We knew it was going to be very difficult for us to keep a 1-1 scoreline, because Spain are such a good team.

"When we got the second goal, I thought we were in with a great chance as we were doing everything right.

"But we were lacking concentration at the back which eventually cost us the game."

Emerging force

McCarthy believes there are lots of positives to be taken from the World Cup experience.

Sibusiso Zuma
Zuma is one of South Africa's leading players

He is confident that the squad, made up of young players, could take South African football to new heights.

"I was very impressed with the way the younger guys performed.

With the experience they've gained from playing at this tournament, I think we will be a force to be reckoned with."


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GROUP B
  P GD PTS
SPAIN 3 +5 9
PARAGUAY 3 0 4
SOUTH AFRICA 3 0 4
SLOVENIA 3 -5 0

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