SA received a significant boost to their qualifying campaign when Zimbabwe were expelled from the competition this week having failed to meet the requirements to have their suspension from football, regarding government interference in the sport, lifted by Fifa.
That leaves Morocco and SA as the favourites, and Liberia the supposed minnows in a three-team group where the top two reach the 24-team finals in Ivory Coast in June and July next year.
Chiefs’ Brandon Petersen was the goalkeeper excluded from the preliminary squad.
The defenders left out were Siyabonga Ngezana (Chiefs), Luke Fleurs (SuperSport United), Athenkosi Mcaba (Stellenbosch FC), Thabani Zuke (Lamontville Golden Arrows) and Maphosa Modiba (Mamelodi Sundowns).
In the midfield the players left out were Fortune Makaringe (Orlando Pirates), Lebogang Maboe (Sundowns), Jesse Donn (SuperSport), Mduduzi Mdantsane (Cape Town City) and Thapelo Morena (Sundowns). Maart, who was not named in the initial 27, was added.
The forwards left out were Ashley du Preez (Stellenbosch), Keagan Dolly (Chiefs) and Mmodi Pule (Arrows).
Bafana squad —
Goalkeepers: Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs), Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu),
Defenders: Nyiko Mobbie (Sekhukhune United), Khuliso Mudau (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bandile Shandu (Orlando Pirates), Grant Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thibang Phete (Belenenses, Portugal), Taariq Fielies (Cape Town City), Terrence Mashego (Cape Town City), Lyle Lakay (Mamelodi Sundowns), Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates)
Midfielders: Sphelelo Sithole (Belenenses, Portugal), Goodman Mosele (Orlando Pirates), Phathutshedzo Nange (Kaizer Chiefs), Yusuf Maart (Sekhukhune United)
Strikers: Thembinkosi Lorch (Orlando Pirates), Evidence Makgopa (Baroka FC), Khanyisa Mayo (Cape Town City), Fagrie Lakay (Pyramids FC, Egypt), Lyle Foster (KVC Westerlo, Belgium), Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Minnesota FC, USA), Percy Tau (Al Ahly SC, Egypt)