South Africa recall 2010 star Siphiwe Tshabalala
South Africa have turned to Siphiwe Tshabalala, 33, in their bid to grab World Cup qualification at the expense of next month's opponents Senegal.
The Kaizer Chiefs winger is recalled for the first time in four years in a surprise move by coach Stuart Baxter.
South Africa play Senegal at home on 10 November and in Dakar four days later.
Senegal need just two points to qualify for Russia 2018 but South Africa can leapfrog them at the top of Group D should they win both matches.
The dreadlocked Tshabalala's call-up is a shock given he won the last of his 88 caps - the second highest by any South Africa international - in the 2014 African Nations Championship.
But the man who won worldwide fame after scoring the opening goal of the 2010 World Cup has been in fine form in South Africa's Premier Soccer League, albeit while playing with less pace these days.
His ability to play on either wing as well in central midfield has enticed Baxter into including him in his 26-man squad for the two key games.
On Thursday, the coach said Tshabalala's return was based on his outstanding form and should not be seen as a long-term plan but rather an emergency measure for these must-win games.
Bafana Bafana will be without striker Tokelo Rantie, however, after he turned down a call-up after being left out of the 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Burkina Faso in October.
"When I spoke to Tokelo he was disappointed that he wasn't called up last time‚" Baxter explained. "He sent me a text saying‚ 'Look‚ I think it's best if - no matter how I'm playing - I don't join up in this one.'"
"So whether Tokelo in his disappointment doesn't think he's ready or whatever‚ that's his prerogative. He's got the right to say that."
Despite being sent off in the last match, Bongani Zungu does make the squad since the South African FA is waiting for the outcome of an appeal to Fifa over his red card against the Burkinabe.
If unsuccessful, he will miss the first game in Polokwane but will be available for the second in the Senegalese capital.
This is also the case with midfield hard man Andile Jali, whose accumulation of yellow cards means he misses the home tie, while Dean Furman returns from suspension and captain Thulani Hlatshwayo from injury.
South Africa's home match against Senegal is an enforced replay after Fifa ruled that Bafana Bafana's original 2-1 win over the West Africans last November had been fixed by Ghana referee Joseph Lamptey.
Having been stripped of the points for that win, South Africa sit bottom of the group with just four points from four matches while Senegal have eight.
Both Burkina Faso and Cape Verde, who clash in Ouagadougou in their last game on 14 November, have six points each but neither can finish with more than nine.
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Wayne Sandilands (Orlando Pirates), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United)
Defenders: Clayton Daniels (SuperSport United), Morgan Gould (SuperSport United), Sifiso Hlanti, Thulani Hlatshwayo (both Bidvest Wits), Tebogo Langerman, Motjeka Madisha (both Mamelodi Sundowns), Mulomowandau Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Thamsanqa Mkhize (Cape Town City)
Midfielders: Keagan Dolly (Montpellier, France), Dean Furman (SuperSport United), Andile Jali (KV Kortrijk, Belgium), Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lebogang Manyama (Konyaspor, Turkey), Kamohelo Mokotjo (Brentford, England), Thulani Serero (Vitesse Arnhem, Netherlands), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bongani Zungu (Amiens, France), Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Strikers: Bradley Grobler (SuperSport United), Phakamani Mahlambi (Al Ahly, Egypt), Dino Ndlovu (FK Qarabag, Azerbaijan), Percy Tau (Mamelodi Sundowns).