Wits United defender, Thulani Hlatshwayo has been named captain of South Africa by coach Stuart Baxter, five days before facing Nigeria in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
The 27-year-old Soweto-born centre-back who led Wits to the league title last month succeeds Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.
England-born Baxter, a recent appointment after Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba was sacked for insulting top football officials, said he believed central defenders were ideally suited to be captains.
“I have always liked to have a centre-back as captain because they can drive the whole team,” he told reporters. “Thulani has all the qualities of a leader.”
The Group E clash between Nigeria and South Africa in Uyo on Saturday is a highlight of the 24-fixture opening round of qualifying for the 2019 Cup of Nations in Cameroon
Meanwhile, Baxter is in buoyant mood ahead of the match.
Despite the numerous number of knocks, Baxter feels there are no excuses not to get the job done against the Super Eagles.
“We need a positive result in Nigeria and we have capabilities to hurt them,” he said. “When we get there, we should be ready. There is no perfect world but I have positive belief.
“We are going to be a big nuisance to them; we want to be a nightmare they don’t want. I respect Nigeria but we are not going there to make up the numbers.”
“I would have loved to have a full fit squad ahead of travelling to Nigeria, but you don’t get a perfect situation in football,” he said. “But there are no excuses and we are raring to go. Those called up are true professionals and should raise their hands.”
Baxter is fully aware of the task at hand, but is in confident mood, insisting he will set up his side to frustrate the Nigerians in their own back yard.