Benni McCarthy: Former South Africa striker carefully considering next coaching step

Benni McCarthy during his time as coach of Cape Town City
Benni McCarthy was coach of South African side Cape Town City for just over two years

Former South Africa striker Benni McCarthy is itching to return to coaching but is not rushing into a new job.

The 42-year-old has been without a job since being fired by South African Premiership club Cape Town City in early November.

He admits that while the break from the game has enabled him to spend time with his family and recharge his batteries, he is ready for a return to coaching.

But although he has already been involved in discussions with Scottish Premiership side Hearts and Ajax Cape Town, he will not be jumping at the first available opportunity.

"If it's the right club, the right chairman and owner, someone I can work with then sure, I'll be up for it," South Africa's top international goal scorer told BBC Sport.

"But I'm not just going to take a job for the sake of taking it if it's not the right move for both parties.

"The Ajax Cape Town job was probably mine if I wanted it. I had a few discussions with the club's CEO Ari Efstathiou - we had great conversations.

"The project could have been good but the timing wasn't right for me."

The job at Ajax, who are currently in pole position to return to the Premier Soccer League after a two-year absence, became vacant following the shock resignation of Dutchman Andries Ulderink two weeks ago.

McCarthy, who won the Champions League with Jose Mourinho's Porto in 2004, revealed he also had an interview with struggling Scottish side Heart of Midlothian.

"I spent about four hours doing a formal presentation and interview in which I outlined my coaching and football philosophy," he explained.

"It was the first time I was involved in a process like this because I was head-hunted when I took the job at Cape Town City.

"Hearts were impressed with my ideas and contacts but in the end they opted for the experience of German, Daniel Stendel.

"It would have been good to get the job because they are based in Edinburgh where I'm currently living with my family.

"Still the interviewing process was a good experience which will stand me in good stead when future opportunities arise."

Hoping to work in Europe

Benni McCarthy celebrates with the European Champions League trophy in 2004
Benni McCarthy win the 2004 European Champions League with Portuguese side Porto

With his family based in Scotland and having spent nearly 20 years playing for clubs in the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and England, McCarthy says his preference would be to find a job in Europe.

"As much as I'm South African at heart being closer to my family is very important to me," he said.

"Given all the time I spent playing in Europe I know the football culture and the mentality there.

"It would make more sense if my next move would be a European club whether it's in Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, England or Spain, which I doubt because people of my colour don't get to coach there.

"But I won't limit myself to Europe because if the right offer comes from anywhere in the world I would be happy to take it."

Bafana Bafana one for the future

Benni McCarthy playing for South Africa
Benni McCarthy scored 32 goals in 80 international appearances for South Africa

McCarthy, who was also linked to the Bafana Bafana job following the departure of Stuart Baxter last August, says he would be keen on taking up the post in a few years time.

"If the Bafana offer came up one day I would definitely be interested. Which coach or manager wouldn't be interested in being the head coach of his country?" he asked.

"The national job is the biggest job for any football coach - your country's fate lies in your hands, you have the chance to guide the team to World Cups, to win the Africa Cup of Nations - it's huge.

"I think one day in the near future that would be my aim but for now I am more interested in working on a day-to-day basis.

"I like to work hands-on with the players every single day. I want to see them grow, improve, challenge themselves and become better footballers."

McCarthy explains that he would also consider an assistant coaching job with the right person guiding him.

"Working in an assistant's role provides a great opportunity to work with experienced managers. You get to learn first hand what it's like." he said.

"Look at Kolo Toure, he played under a great manager like Arsene Wenger for such a long time, I don't think you could have worked under a better manager.

"He also went to play under Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool and Glasgow Celtic and then joined Brendan's coaching staff after retiring.

"Once you think you've learnt enough you can then go on your own when the opportunity arises."

A chance to work alongside Mark Hughes, his former boss at Blackburn Rovers, could well be in the pipeline when the former Manchester United striker finds his next manager's job.

"Mark has asked to meet with me when I return home. I think he may have something lined up," McCarthy added.

"Hopefully he gets back into management and if things work out there might be a possible opportunity. He's someone I admire and working alongside him could be an interesting possibility for me."

In the meantime McCarthy intends to spend some time learning from his former manager Mourinho, who is now at Tottenham Hotspur.

"I am in regular contact with Jose so I'm going spend some time at Spurs to see how he operates and what I can learn from him."

McCarthy is determined to arm himself with as much knowledge and information as he waits patiently to take up his next coaching job.

He wants to make the best use of his vast experience as a player as well as his burning desire to expand his knowledge bank.

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