The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has been ironing out the finer details of the 2017 African Nations Cup finals to be played in Gabon next year‚ including finalising the dates for the tournament.
The continental showpiece will kick-off on January 14 in the Gabonese capital of Libreville‚ with the final to be played in the same city on February 5.
That is just two days before the planned resumption of the Premier Soccer League in 2017.
And with Kaizer Chiefs set to host Free State Stars on February 7‚ should Zimbabwe make a surprise visit to the semifinals‚ which will ensure a place in the third-place play-off match at least‚ that game will almost certainly be postponed.
The draw for the pool stage of the finals will take place later today in Libreville at 19h30 South African time‚ when the 16 qualified teams will learn their fate.
Unfortunately for Bafana Bafana fans‚ they will only be interested onlookers.
CAF have determined that Group A will be based in Libreville‚ Group B in Franceville‚ Group C in Oyem and Group D in Port Gentil.
Whilst hosts Gabon and holders Ivory Coast are certain to be in Libreville and Oyem respectively‚ Ghana and Algeria‚ the other top seeds‚ will only know their destination after the draw.
The others seedings have also been confirmed‚ with Pot 2 to contain Tunisia‚ Mali‚ Burkina Faso and DR Congo.
Pot 3 has Cameroon‚ Senegal‚ Morocco and Egypt‚ while the lowest seeded sides are Togo‚ Uganda‚ Zimbabwe and debutants Guinea-Bissau.
The seedings were determined by taking into account the various countries' performances at the last three Nations Cup finals‚ the last three Nations Cup qualifying campaigns‚ as well as the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and finals.
The opening match of the tournament‚ which will include Gabon‚ will be played at the Stade de L’Amitie‚ the venue that hosted the final in 2012 and saw Zambia stun Ivory Coast to lift the trophy.
It will be played at 18h00 South African time.
The final on February 5 at the same venue will kick-off at 21h00 South African time.
During the pool phase there will be two games played each match day‚ with the first kicking off at 18h00 and the second at 21h00‚ both South African time.
The same goes for the quarterfinals‚ while the semis‚ third-place match and final will all be at 21h00. - TMG Digital