Lyle Foster: Burnley striker finally favoured as McCarthy slams fans & makes huge claim on attacker – ‘He could be playing for Manchester United’

The 23-year-old experienced a backlash from the fans in the country after controversially missing 2023 Afcon but still played for the Clarets

Lyle Foster has endured a torrid time with South Africa fans after controversially missing the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) held in Ivory Coast early this year.

In early November, the 23-year-old versatile attacker revealed that he was struggling psychologically and needed some time off. 

It led to his exclusion from the Bafana Bafana team that was preparing for AFCON which was a massive blow for coach Hugo Broos considering the qualities possessed by the Clarets man.

Barely a month later, Foster was back playing competitive football with Burnley who were flattering relegation at the time. The motive behind Burnley’s failure to release the striker for the biggest international competition in Africa was questioned by both Broos and the fans.

It explains why a section of the unforgiving Mzansi fans were delighted when Burnley failed to keep their Premier League status joining the likes of Sheffield United and Luton Town in the Championship.

McCarthy comes to Foster’s aid

In a recent interview by Manchester United strikers’ coach Benni McCarthy, the condition suffered by Foster shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The Bafana Bafana legend further told off fans who doubted the player’s allegiance to the national team.

“That is sad for us South Africans to be celebrating because Burnley went down, [as a] punishment for Lyle Foster,” the Bafana Bafana legend told Marawa Sports Worldwide when asked for his opinion on the issue.

“Mental health is slowly becoming the fastest killer out there. 

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“When we drew [1-1] against Burnley [in the Premier League game played at Old Trafford on April 27], I was rubbing my eyes out because I thought Lyle was that good, he could fit like a glove in our team, in that Manchester United team. 

“His movement was unbelievable, Harry Maguire couldn't deal with Lyle because of his movement.”

Broos gives Foster chance to redeem image

Safa promised to open an investigation to ascertain whether Foster’s absence from the 2023 AFCON was malicious or not.

The findings were not publicly shared, but it seems the problem was solved because Foster has been included in the Bafana Bafana team that will play Nigeria in Group C of the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifier on June 7 at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.

In the absence of the unfit Orlando Pirates duo – Evidence Makgopa and Zakhele Lepasa, Foster is expected to be among the first names to be drafted on the starting sheet. 

What made Broos go for the striker when the majority of Bafana faithful had contradicting opinions? 

“His health problem was solved, that was the problem and I know I was also very angry at a certain moment because from England we got the news that Lyle Foster was not ready and had a mental problem and so on and so on, and then he started playing [for Burnley],” Broos told SABC Sport when naming his final team for the Super Eagles date.

“We had contact again with England and they said he was not ready; also Lyle wrote us a letter that he didn’t want to go with us to Afcon because he was not ready. That’s the reason why Lyle was not with us in Ivory Coast.”

“So, after that for March I contacted him again and they told me ‘No', it’s better that you don’t call him for the moment because he’s not 100%, still not really 100%, and that’s why he was not with us in March [during the international break].”

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“But he still played for Burnley, he always played every game for Burnley, so it was not easy to accept that. But I followed – let’s say, the medical reasons why I couldn’t take him but now everything was okay.”

“I phoned him, I called him and we had a good chat. I called Vincent Kompany, we had a good chat, so there are no problems anymore. And that’s the reason why Lyle is now again with us.”

What is at stake?

South Africa started their quest to play in the 2026 World Cup with a 2-1 win over Benin, before falling 2-0 away against Rwanda on matchday 2.

Nigeria managed identical 1-1 draws against Lesotho and Zimbabwe respectively meaning they are desperate for a win.

If Foster can manage to win it for Bafana Bafana then he might surely win the fans' trust and they will start to chant his name positively.

Lyle Foster: Burnley striker finally favoured as McCarthy slams fans & makes huge claim on attacker – ‘He could be playing for Manchester United’
Willis Sob

Willis Sob is an experienced journalist who has been in the game since 2009, covering major assignments around the continent.
His hunger for African football is unmatched, always getting the best angles and facts to feed the fans and quench their thirst.