The A-Listers

SOCIALS | Benni McCarthy is still on the Champions League ball

17 March 2019 - 00:00


He might have swapped his spot in the 18-yard box for a coach's job, but Benni McCarthy still pulls a crowd. The Bafana Bafana all-time top goal-scorer, now Cape Town City coach, was the drawcard on Wednesday evening for the launch of Pepsi's new "Win Like a Baller" campaign.
Held at the Grand Slam Sports Diner in Edenvale on Gauteng's east rand, the night also lured many of Benni's peers from Bafana Bafana's heyday.
Not long after walking into the venue, I spot former goalkeeper Brian Baloyi sporting a red FC Bayern jersey.
The German side was due to play Liverpool in one of two European Champions League matches that night, but rather than making predictions the lanky Kaizer Chiefs legend tells me about the kids' soccer programme he will launch in May.
No surprise that goalkeeping will feature in the initiative.
"We need to play catch-up compared to the rest of the world, and the continent," said the man fans called Spider-Man.
Another soccer ace, Matthew Booth, tells me he's got a surprisingly different interest off the pitch.
The former defender is set to finish his political science studies through Unisa but assures me he won't be swapping sport for parliamentary commentating any time soon.
Then it's hello to soccer marketing queen Emy Casaletti, who was responsible for putting the event together, and her husband, Kalusha Bwalya, who back in 1998 was Africa's Player of the Year.
A few minutes later TKZee's Shibobo starts blaring and in walks the man featured on the hit 1990s track.
Benni might be less lithe than when he was soccer's original glamour boy but he is still the only South African to have won the European Cup - with FC Porto.
No wonder the Champions League's official soft drink picked him to head the Ballers campaign.
What, though, I ask Benni, is the difference between kicking the ball and coaching?
"A player has an easy life," he says. "As a coach you're stressed - your hair doesn't grow overnight."
Meanwhile, someone who hasn't lost his touch is Doctor Khumalo, who juggled the ball for longer than his compatriots during an impromptu joust.
As for the food, it was the sort Benni would remember back when he was playing for Porto, like the diner's signature dish, milho frito, which is chunks of mealie pap, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, mixed with slivers of kale and served with espetada (skewered meat).

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