Previous appearances African Cup of Nations finals: 7
Best performance: Winners in 1996; Runners-up in 1998
FIFA world ranking December 2012: 87
Coach: Gordon Igesund was appointed last June after the country's poor start to the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. He was given six months to get ready for the Nations Cup and ordered to deliver at minimum a semi-final appearance if he wants to keep his job past next month. The 56-year-old is the most successful coach in South African domestic football with four league titles with four different clubs since 1997. As a player he had a spell in Austria.
Goalkeepers: 16-Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), 22-Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates), 1-Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Defenders: 2-Siboniso Gaxa (Kaizer Chiefs), 14-Bongani Khumalo (PAOK Salonika), 3-Tsepo Masilela (Kaizer Chiefs), 11-Thabo Matlaba (Orlando Pirates), 5-Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk), 4-Thabo Nthethe (Bloemfontein Celtic), 21-Siyabonga Sangweni (Orlando Pirates)
Midfielders: 6-Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows), 13-Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace), 15-Dean Furman (Oldham Athletic), 12-Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), 19-May Mahlangu (Helsingborg), 20-Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), 18-Thuso Phala (Platinum Stars), 10-Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam), 8-Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs)
Strikers: 7-Lehlohonolo Majoro (Kaizer Chiefs), 9-Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), 23-Tokelo Rantie (Malmo FF), 17-Bernard Parker (Kaizer Chiefs)
Thulani Serero (Ajax). Age: 22. Position: Midfielder. Playmaker who moved to Ajax after being crowned South Africa's best footballer in 2011. Working his way back after a groin injury suffered in September but coach Igesund says a Serero at 60 per cent is still a potential match winner for his team since the retirement from international football of Steven Pienaar.
Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs). Age: 28 Position: Winger. Scorer of a cracking goal to open the 2010 World Cup finals, he is arguably the most popular footballer in South Africa with his smiling face and dreadlocked hairstyle adorning advertising hoardings across the major cities. His form has vacillated over the last two years as he has struggled physically to keep up with the demand of both club and country commitments.
Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk). Age: 25 Position: Defender. Utility defender, likely to play at right-back, who was virtually unknown in his home country until he emerged at Belgian club Genk, with whom he won the league in 2011 and competed in the group phase of last season's UEFA Champions League. He has trials as a teenager with Arsenal.
Prospects: South Africa might have regressed since the disappointment of not making it past the first round of the 2010 World Cup when they hosted the finals but could ride a tide of emotive support if they get off to a good start and win over sceptical fans. They have been hampered by injury setbacks but Igesund is confident they can still go on and win the title as happened the last time the tournament was hosted in South Africa in 1996.