Do or die for Ivory Coast
ONE or the other, between Ivory Coast and Senegal will not be at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations finals in South Africa, after the two giants were pitted against each other in last night's preliminary draw held in Johannesburg.
This means one more African powerhouse will join seven-time champions Egypt, who were knocked out in the early rounds of the qualifiers by minnows Central African Republic, on the sidelines.
Ivory Coast, finalists of the this year's tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, will host the first leg of the two-legged affair against Senegal on the weekend of September 7-9.
Senegal were knocked out in the group stages of the 2012 edition. The second legs - for all 15 games - will be on the weekend of October 12-14.
Defending champions Zambia were handed a tricky draw against Uganda and travel to the opposition's home ground for the first leg. Another draw that got the crowd at Emperors Palace going, was between Sierra Leone and former champions Tunisia.
Venues for the tournament were announced in May, with Soccer City, in Johannesburg, getting the nod to host the opening and closing ceremonies.
The tournament will kick off on January 19 to February 10.
Other host venues are Mbombela, Nelson Mandela Bay, Royal Bafokeng and Moses Mabhida stadiums.
CAF football general secretary Hicham el Amrani, announced last night, that during next year's Afcon finals, Group A, which includes hosts Bafana, will be based in Durban. Group B will be in Port Elizabeth, Group C in Nelspruit and Group D in Rustenburg.
This means Bafana will play their opening game at Soccer City before heading to Durban for the rest of the group's matches. The final draw to determine the 16 teams will be held in Durban on October 26.
The rest of the draw:
Mali vs Botswana, Zimbabwe vs Angola, Ghana vs Malawi, Liberia vs Nigeria, Zambia vs Uganda, Cape Verde vs Cameroon, Mozambique vs Morocco, Sierra Leone vs Tunisia, Guinea vs Niger, Sudan vs Ethiopia, Libya vs Algeria, Ivory Coast vs Senegal, DRC vs Equatorial Guinea, Gabon vs Togo and Central African Republic vs Burkina Faso.