With your team less than two weeks from taking to the pitch as host nation for the World Cup, the South Africa coach could be forgiven for metaphorically crapping himself about who to include in his squad.
So with the weight of a nation on his shoulders, the decision by Bafana Bafana boss Carlos Alberto Parreira to omit striker Benni McCarthy – one of his few players with genuine top-flight experience – from his final, 23-man squad must have been a nightmare.
Or then again, given McCarthy had been in a race against time to rediscover his form and fitness after a troubled English Premier League season, the omission might just have been a stroke of genius.
But whatever the reason for it, McCarthy’s exclusion from the squad was still a major surprise to most football fans ahead of Bafana Bafana’s first match on June 11 – and TNT is hosting a special screening for the match.
“I am not going to talk about individuals who did not make the final squad. We applied five principles when making our choices,” Parreira said.
“This is not the end of the road for the five footballers whose dreams I have cut short. There will be other opportunities to play for the national team,” stressed the 1994 World Cup-winning coach.
McCarthy, who plays for West Ham in the English Premier League, played in only one of four warm-up matches last month, coming on as a second-half substitute in a bruising 2-1 victory over Colombia at Soccer City last Thursday.
He saw little of the ball and did not have an opportunity to increase his record 32-goal haul for Bafana.
Former Bafana captain Neil Tovey was one who had little sympathy for McCarthy’s plight.
“Benni has only himself to blame,” Tovey said at timesonline.co.za
“When he left Blackburn Rovers to join West Ham United in January, Rovers released him due to his lack of fitness.
“He should have woken up with the World Cup around the corner and worked harder to get fit. I realise he has had injuries, but he was obviously not in shape to play at the World Cup.
“We could have done with having a fully fit Benni, but I my view Benni let him self down by not getting in shape. He knew the score.”
There were several other surprises as the squad was cut from 28 players to the regulation 23 with uncapped goalkeeper Shuaib Walters from unfashionable Maritzburg United getting the nod over Germany-based Rowen Fernandez.
Bryce Moon was considered the likeliest deputy rightback behind Siboniso Gaxa but the slot went to Anele Ngcongca, possibly because the Belgium-based footballer can be deployed in various defensive and midfield positions.
The other South Africans who did not make it for the June 11-July 11 tournament were predictable with leftback Innocent Mdledle and left-side midfielder Franklin Cale left out.
Bafana Bafana World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Shuaib Walters (Maritzburg Utd)
Defenders: Matthew Booth and Siboniso Gaxa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport Utd), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa/ISR), Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth/ENG, capt), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk/BEL), Siyabonga Sangweni (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Lucas Thwala (Pirates)
Midfielders: Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Siphiwe Tshabalala (Chiefs), Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Fulham/ENG), Thanduyise Khuboni (Arrows), Teko Modise (Pirates), Surprise Moriri (Sundowns), Steven Pienaar (Everton/ENG), Macbeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan/RUS)
Strikers: Katlego Mphela (Sundowns), Siyabonga Nomvete (Moroka Swallows), Bernard Parker (Twente/NED)