Momma McCarthy is moping
For some, it was South Africa's first own goal of the World Cup, for others the first strike in the quest for soccer glory.
But for Dora McCarthy, mother of axed striker Benni, yesterday's news of her son's exclusion from the national soccer squad was the end of her World Cup dream.
"Nothing I can say will get him back in the team," the dejected mother told The Times at her home in Heathfield, Cape Town.
"We just have to accept it."
Dressed smartly - possibly expecting to celebrate good news - Dora could only shrug her shoulders when pressed for more comment before she retreated inside.
The quiet, suburban street seemed to share her glum mood, along with many South Africans who were hoping to see Benni back on the field for his third World Cup appearance.
But, elsewhere on the Cape peninsula, the family of another Cape Town-born player, Lance Davids, were celebrating his surprise inclusion in the squad.
"I was sitting at my desk at work. It was quite a shock," said Davids' sister, Anthea Gurling.
"We are overwhelmed as a family. It was quite tight," she said, adding that her brother had surprised them by sneaking down to Cape Town to celebrate with his family.
McCarthy, now 32, and South Africa's top all-time goal-scorer with 32 goals in 78 games, was philosophical about his exclusion from the team.
In a statement yesterday, he said he still considered himself part of the national side.
"All the players who made the national call-up should be proud. We did not fail, we just didn't make the final 23.
"We are still a part of the team, if not the squad," he said.
"The final squad is a tough call for any coach to make and I am sure it was not made without heartache."
Despite persistent rumours about his physical condition - particularly about excess weight - McCarthy did not say why he thought he was left out of the squad coached by Carlos Alberto Parreira.
"No one's place in the final squad is a given," he said.
But as soon as news of McCarthy's exclusion broke, social networking sites buzzed with jokes.
Twitter user Lizette Kruger joked: "I guess they could not make the shirt beeeega."
A user calling himself RealAlaNatural said chicken outlet KFC would "introduce the Benni McCarthy 24-piece bucket meal, for those times when 23 is just not enough."
Another user, calling himself FatSlobs, said: "Anyone know how to get hold of Benni? I want to buy him a happy meal. He is sad."
Sizwe Dhlomo tweeted: "Cutting Benni from Bafana was the most extreme liposuction procedure. They're in the best shape of their lives now."
But others seemed happy that McCarthy's previous reluctance to play for his country had come back to haunt him.
Khaya D Langa tweeted: "It's not the fat that did Benni in. It's the arrogance." - Additional reporting by Gabisile Ndebele and Sapa
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