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Benni on how ‘Banana’ chants psyched him up

Benni McCarthy has recalled how derogatory chants by Namibian fans inspired him for one of his most famous days in a Bafana Bafana shirt.

The then-Ajax Amsterdam striker well and truly announced himself on the international stage when he netted four goals in 13 minutes against Namibia in a must-win 1998 Africa Cup of Nations clash in Burkina Faso.

Just six weeks earlier, McCarthy had made his full international debut in a Cosafa Cup encounter against the same opponents in Windhoek. However, that game ended in an embarrassing 3-2 defeat, with the visitors taking a lot of abuse.

“My real debut came when Jomo made me the important figure of the team when we went to play a Cosafa Cup match in Windhoek,” McCarthy told the SA Football Journalists Association (Safja), as quoted by TimesLIVE.

“I had a pretty special game, with an assist for ‘Chippa’ [Phil Masinga], but unfortunately we lost. And I remember the celebrations of the Namibians because they had beaten us. And the whole stadium sang this song, ‘Banana Banana’.

“That game was just the curtain-raiser for the Afcon for us. And I said to myself, ‘If I’m in that Afcon squad then I’m going to make them eat their words, those bastards’.

“At Afcon, there was the Angola game where Jomo made that miracle substitution where I had retaliated, and got ‘injured’ after I should have been sent off, and my tournament would have been finished.

“The Ivory Coast game I had a swollen ankle so missed it, and we managed a draw, so it was two draws in the first two games.

“We needed to win against Namibia, so I just told Jomo that I would take an injection because I really wanted to play, and I wanted to shove those ‘Banana Bananas’ that they called us down their throats.

“Come the game I was psyched up. I had a nice strapped ankle and I genuinely couldn’t feel the pain.

“As the game went on that was the only thing in my mind - ‘Banana Banana, Banana Banana’. And every goal that went in I kept singing to myself, ‘Banana Banana, Banana Banana’.

“The game finished, and I had scored the four goals, which was incredible and I was so jubilant. And shame, even now when I think about it I was a bit of an asshole to the Namibian players at the end, because every one of them came up and wanted my shirt. And I said, ‘I ain't giving my shirt to you ... you were singing Banana Banana’.”

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