Tshabalala named as South Africa skipper

JOHANNESBURG - Simphiwe Tshabalala, who scored the opening goal at last year's World Cup, will captain South Africa in their African Nations Cup qualifier in Niger next week in the absence of the injured Steven Pienaar, officials said.

Tshabalala, whose left-footed thunderbolt against Mexico at Soccer City was chosen as one of FIFA's goals of the year, stands in for the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, who is expected to be sidelined for the next month after suffering a pre-season injury.

Pienaar is one of three South African international based in England, who will miss the game because of injury and are absent from a 24-man squad named by coach Pitso Mosimane.

Kagisho Dikgacoi of Crystal Palace and Davide Somma of Leeds United have also been ruled out of the match in Niamey on September 4.

An away win for South Africa would confirm their place at next year's Nations Cup tournament, which is being co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.