Bafana drawn with powerhouse Ghana in 2021 Afcon qualifiers
Bafana Bafana will meet the Black Stars of Ghana‚ Sudan and the winner of a play-off tie between Mauritius and São Tomé and Príncipe in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
The winner of the match between the tiny Atlantic Ocean island São Tomé and Príncipe‚ who have never South Africa before‚ and Mauritius will be added to Group C after their play-off over two legs in October.
The fixtures are yet to be released by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) but given the seedings it is highly likely Bafana will begin the qualifiers with a trip to Ghana and then a home clash against Sudan.
The two games against Ghana and Sudan will be in November‚ after which there will be a 10-month hiatus until September 2020 when the Cup of Nations qualifiers resume and the last four matches will be squeezed into a period of three months.
As the top two teams in each of the 12 qualifying groups go through to the tournament in Cameroon and on paper South Africa will have a good a chance of usurping Ghana to top place in the group.
Ghana are ranked 50th in world football‚ 22 places above Bafana‚ Sudan are in 130th place‚ Mauritius 157 and Sao Tome e Principe 185.
Bafana met Ghana in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers and got beaten both home and away under coach Stuart Baxter.
But overall South Africa have won five times to three for Ghana in 11 past meetings and there have been three draws.
Sudan were in South Africa’s qualifying group for the 2015 Cup of Nations qualifying group and the 3-0 away win in Khartoum‚ at the start of Shakes Mashaba’s last tenure in charge of the team‚ was one of the best away performances that the country has produced.
They also beat Sudan 2-1 in Durban in the return game with Tokelo Rantie netting the winner in a much less convincing showing.
The 2021 qualifiers will be run in tandem with the 2022 World Cup qualifiers – plenty of opportunity to confuse the public about which match is for which competition and in which group.
The draw for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers are to be made in Cairo on July 29.