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By ESPN Staff

Bereaved McCarthy will still play for S.Africa

South Africa coach Joel Santana has included Benni McCarthy in a 23-man squad to face Cameroon next week, despite the death of the Blackburn striker's father on Thursday.

McCarthy, who is already in the country to attend the funeral, is not expected to feature in the match, which has been arranged as part of the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge.

His absence is likely to stretch Bafana Bafana's frontline with Santana having named just two other strikers in Thanda Royal Zulu captain Bernard Parker and Supersport United's Katlego Mphela.

South African Football Association (SAFA) chief executive confirmed that McCarthy will have the final say over his decision to play in the November 19 tie in Rustenburg.

He said: "We have not spoken to Benni but we will respect his decision as to whether he can play after his tragic loss.

"There will be no pressure whatsoever on Benni to play and we will abide by his decision. It is up to him whether he feels he can play."

The good news for the 2010 World Cup hosts is the welcome return of Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar and Club Brugge winger Elrio van Heerden, both of whom have been sidelined with injury for most of the current season.

South Africa have won their last three matches against Equatorial Guinea, Malawi and Ghana, giving coach Santana hope of a fourth successive win.

"This game is important in many ways because it will be a good test for us as a country, which will tell us how far we have progressed in our build up towards the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup," he said.

"We have tried to keep the base of the squad that we have been using for the past three games or so. Cameroon is a world respected side and since they are bringing their best team for this tournament, it will be a good run for our players and a good build up on experience."

The Brazilian also pointed out that the significance of the game should further motivate his players.

"This is an important tournament in the history of this country, honouring one of the biggest legends of our time," he said.

"The best way to honour Nelson Mandela would be to win this game. We will be playing at home and we will be expecting a lift from our supporters.

"Our ambition is to make it four wins in a row."

South Africa squad: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Brian Baloyi (Mamelodi Sundowns); Matthew Booth (Krylya Sovetov), Bradley Carnell (Karlsruhe), Siboniso Gaxa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Morgan Gould (Supersport United), Tshepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa), Masilo Modubi (KVC Westerlo), Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn Rovers) Nasief Morris (Recreativo de Huelva), Thabo Nthethe (Bloemfontein Celtic); Lance Davids (Djurgardens), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Golden Arrows), Thulasizwe Mbuyane, Teko Modise (both Orlando Pirates), Siyabonga Nkosi (Arminia Bielefeld), Steven Pienaar (Everton), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Macbeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan) Elrio van Heerden (Club Brugge); Benni McCarthy (Blackburn Rovers), Bernard Parker (Thanda Royal Zulu), Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns).

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