A replacement will be announced as soon as possible.
Phungwayo injured his knee during Bafana Bafana’s last training session of the mini-training camp in Johannesburg (30 December 2014).
He missed the international friendly match against Zambia on Sunday, 4 January 2015 which South Africa won 1-0 at Orlando Stadium as he was undergoing rehabilitation.
The defender also missed the two training sessions that Bafana Bafana had in Libreville, Gabon.
The scan revealed left medial collateral ligament sprain which will require some weeks of rest to heal.
“We have no option but to send him home so he can begin with rehabilitation and we can welcome the new player in. We would have loved to be with him to play in the tournament, but because of the injury we can’t. But going back will also help him to recover speedily. It is not a nice thing to happen to anyone when we are so close to the start of the tournament.
“We really valued his contribution in the team hence we delayed in making this announcement, hoping he will recover but we found we have no option. We can only wish him a speedy recovery so he can be back with us in the near future. We are hurt to lose him, all the best,” said Bafana Bafana head coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba.
Phungwayo has already been informed about his return home and logistics are in place to get him back home as soon as possible.
“I would really like to say thank you very much for the opportunity I got of being part of this team, it was a privilege and honour to be here knowing very well that I was not around for the qualifiers, but because the coach gave us all a belief that if you perform well you will get a chance and that is what happened.
“As for the injury, these things happen in football and I understand; everything happens for a reason. There are always greater plans for me coming up, this is not the end of the world and I believe the future looks bright. And I would like to take this opportunity to wish the team all the best in the tournament,” said Phungwayo.
Meanwhile, Andile Jali and Thabo Matlaba have been declared fit to play by the Bafana Bafana medical team.
Jali arrived in camp in December with a knee injury and has now fully recovered. Matlaba was stretchered off in the clash against Zambia on Sunday, 4 January at Orlando Stadium after complaining of cramps which were caused by low levels of fitness. He has been getting extra training in camp.