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Bafana’s path to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar becomes a little clearer on Monday

Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter dishing out instructions to his players.
Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter dishing out instructions to his players.

Bafana Bafana’s path to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will become a little clearer on Monday when the draw is held for the qualifying competition in Cairo.

South Africa are one of the 26 countries exempt from the preliminary round of the qualifiers‚ meaning they go straight into the group stages‚ where they will discover some of their opponents in the qualifiers that kick-off‚ for them‚ in March 2020.

First there will be a two-legged preliminary round that will feature a number of Premier Soccer League stars with the likes of Zimbabwe‚ Namibia‚ Malawi and Mozambique all involved.

The 28 teams are the lowest ranked on the African continent‚ with the 14 winners advancing to the pool stages.

They have been split into two groups‚ meaning the higher-ranked teams will not face one-another.

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The groupings are as follows‚ with teams in Pot 1 to face a side from Pot 2.

Pot 1: Zimbabwe‚ Sierra Leone‚ Mozambique‚ Namibia‚ Angola‚ Guinea-Bissau‚ Malawi‚ Togo‚ Sudan‚ Rwanda‚ Tanzania‚ Equatorial Guinea‚ Eswatini‚ Lesotho

Pot 2: Comoros‚ Botswana‚ Burundi‚ Ethiopia‚ Liberia‚ Mauritius‚ Gambia‚ South Sudan‚ Chad‚ Sao Tome e Principe‚ Seychelles‚ Djibouti‚ Somalia‚ Eritrea

The 14 victors join the 26 teams who received a bye through this stage‚ including Bafana‚ and will be drawn into 10 groups‚ each containing four sides.

Those qualifiers will be played between March 2020 and October 2021‚ coinciding too with the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations preliminaries‚ making this a busy‚ and crucial‚ two years for the national team.

The 10 winners of the pools advance to a final knockout round there they will play-off over two legs in November 2021‚ with the five victors qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar.

Bafana will likely find out two of their group opponents on Monday‚ though it could be as few as one if they are drawn against two teams in the preliminary round.

They will be second seeds in the draw‚ meaning they will definitely have to get past one of Senegal‚ Tunisia‚ Nigeria‚ Algeria‚ Morocco‚ Egypt‚ Ghana‚ Cameroon‚ DR Congo or Ivory Coast to reach Qatar.

Teams they will not face‚ as they are in the same seeding pool‚ are Mali‚ Burkina Faso‚ Guinea‚ Cape Verde‚ Uganda‚ Zambia‚ Benin‚ Gabon or Congo-Brazzaville.

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