South Africa have ditched Blackburn striker Benni McCarthy for the 2008 African Nations Cup in Ghana.
Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira also dumped defender Bradley Carnell and midfielders Delron Buckley and Macbeth Sibaya from the squad.
The Brazilian refused to reveal why a striker he had battled to get back into a goal-shy Bafana Bafana squad was suddenly surplus to requirements.
McCarthy has not been informed that he would not be going to the tournament.
Rumours swirled around the five-star hotel where the squad was named as to why the joint leading Bafana scorer with 29 goals had not made a squad to be captained by Blackburn team-mate, defender-cum-midfielder Aaron Mokoena.
Some observers suspected South Africa struck a deal with Blackburn manager Mark Hughes to leave McCarthy out as Premiership clubs brace for a mass exodus of stars for the tournament which starts on 20 January.
When Parreira took over, his first serious challenge was to woo temperamental McCarthy out of self-imposed retirement since the 2006 Nations Cup in Egypt.
McCarthy, who burst into prominence by scoring nine goals at the 1998 Nations Cup in Burkina Faso to help South Africa finish second, claimed he was wrongly accused by national association officials for stirring a bonuses storm.
Parreira eventually got his way after a five-minute meeting in England and McCarthy scored on his return against Zambia in Cape Town two months ago to draw level at the top of the goals list with retired Shaun Bartlett.
South Africa, the first of the 16 finalists to name their squad, have been drawn with Angola, Senegal and Tunisia in Group D at the Nations Cup finals.
Goalkeepers: Rowen Fernandez (Arminia Bielefeld, Germany), Moeneeb Josephs (Wits University), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs)
Defenders: Brett Evans (Ajax Cape Town), Bevan Fransman (Moroka Swallows), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa), Vuyo Mere (Mamelodi Sundowns) Benson Mhlongo (Mamelodi Sundowns), Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn Rovers), Bryce Moon (Ajax Cape Town), Nasief Morris (Panathinaikos)
Midfielders: Lance Davids (Djurgardens), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Surprise Moriri (Mamelodi Sundowns), Steven Pienaar (Everton), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Elrio van Heerden (Club Brugge)
Forwards: Lerato Chabangu (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thembinkosi Fanteni (Ajax Cape Town), Katlego Mphela (SuperSport United), Excellent Walaza (Orlando Pirates), Sibusiso Zuma (Arminia Bielefeld).