Benni makes call on Shonga future


AmaZulu head coach Benni McCarthy has offered a frank assessment on why he opted against signing former Orlando Pirates striker Justin Shonga.

Shonga is currently a free agent after parting ways with Cape Town City via mutual consent last month and was invited for an assessment by Usuthu.

The news sparked widespread optimism around the Usuthu fanbase with the hope that McCarthy could reinvigorate his career in the same manner as his compatriot Augustine Mulenga, who ironically also starred at Pirates at one point.

As reported by KickOff earlier talks reached an impasse over the 24-year-old's salary demands and the 2020/21 PSL Coach of the Season revealed he's been allowed to leave the club due to concerns over his match fitness heading into a gruelling campaign.

"He wanted to come and train and wanted to come and see if we see maybe he can add something different to the squad and I allowed it," McCarthy explained ahead of their MTN8 clash against his former club.

"He's been really good, worked exceptionally hard but the fact that he hasn't played as much over the last two seasons put him on the back foot a little bit and unfortunately we need urgency (sic). We need a player to come in and click just like that with the team and give us the goals and what we need.

"Unfortunately for him, the position we were looking for was for somebody to come in and bet better than the strikers that we have and with Justin, we needed time to get him to that level.

"Time is not on our side, we have so many competitions, the MTN8 is upon us, the CAF Champions League is coming, the league is starting so how much time do we need to get him there? By then maybe your rivals have put daylight between you and them."

Scroll through the gallery below to see AmaZulu's new signings ahead of the 2021/22 campaign

McCarthy went on to add that he holds the Zambia international in high regard and is confident his ability will shine once again if afforded the chance elsewhere.

"I think the boy does have a lot of quality, he's really good and if you can get him back to that fitness level... he's going to need time, it's been a long time to be out of football," he explained.

"I'm sad for the player, he's got all the quality and attributes but he just need a bit of time to get back to that level.

"Every club signs players wanting immediate effect, you want them to come in and hit the ground running straight away not one or two or three months time.

"That's the nature of the business and the player must suffer the consequences, so he's no longer with us."

Shonga has scored 11 goals and registered 12 assists in 74 games in the South African top-flight since his arrival from Nakwazi FC in 2017.

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