Benni ends international exile

South Africa star striker Benni McCarthy will end a 19-month international exile when he plays against Zambia in Cape Town next weekend.

The Blackburn Rovers striker, second highest English Premiership scorer last year, was included on Wednesday in a 22-man squad for an African Nations Cup Group 11 qualifier on September 9 at Newlands Stadium.

It will be his first appearance for the 2010 Soccer World Cup hosts since Bafana Bafana lost 2-0 to Tunisia at the 2006 Nations Cup, a result that eliminated the former champions from the biennial tournament.

McCarthy has had a love-hate relationship with his country since bursting onto the international scene at the 1998 Nations Cup in Burkina Faso, where he finished joint leading scorer with Egyptian legend Hossam Hassan.

Outspoken McCarthy has fallen out with coaches and officials and often complained that continuous Bafana commitments were hampering his dream to play in England.

He joined Blackburn last year after spells in The Netherlands, Spain and Portugal and proved an instant hit under Rovers manager Mark Hughes, once a star striker at Manchester United.52

South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira had a brief meeting with McCarthy last weekend en route from Scotland, where Bafana suffered from a lack of striking power when losing an international friendly 1-0 in Aberdeen. — AFP

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Rowen Fernandez (Arminia Bielefeld, Germany), Calvin Marlin (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Defenders: Vuyo Mere and Benson Mhlongo (Sundowns), Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn, England, captain), Bradley Carnell (Karlsruhe, Germany), Cyril Nzama (Kaizer Chiefs), Brett Evans (Ajax Cape Town), Nasief Morris (Panathinaikos, Greece), Bevan Fransman (Moroka Swallows).

Midfielders: Surprise Moriri and Dillon Sheppard (Sundowns), Macbeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Steven Pienaar (Everton, England), Papi Zothwane (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Siyabonga Nkosi (Arminia Bielefeld, Germany), Benedict Vilakazi (Aalborg, Denmark), Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Delron Buckley (Borussia Dortmund, Germany)

Strikers: Benni McCarthy (Blackburn, England), Thembinkosi ”Terror” Fanteni (Ajax Cape Town), Siyabonga Nomvete (Aalborg, Denmark)

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