It is a tough, but exciting draw, says Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter after the Africa Cup of Nations’ 24 teams were separated into six groups of four each in Cairo on Friday night.
South Africa will face Morocco, Ivory Coast and Namibia in Group D at the African championships, which will take place in Egypt from June 21-July 19.
Some might consider it as the ‘Group of Death’, but when looking at the other pools, there is hardly an easy game in sight.
“It is a tough, but exciting draw. We have generally done well against big teams, but struggled against so-called smaller teams. If we play to our potential, we should give all teams problems,” Baxter told the Safa website afterwards.
“We are not going to shout from the rooftops, but we are definitely not in this Group to add numbers. It is a good group with top teams, and it makes it interesting for good football.”
The tournament opener will see Egypt take on Zimbabwe on June 21 (10pm kickoff) at Cairo International Stadium, while Bafana will start their campaign against Ivory Coast at Al Salam Stadium in Cairo (4.30pm).
The fact that there are teams from three different regions in Africa – Morocco from the north, Ivory Coast from the west and southern neighbours Namibia – means that Bafana will have to adapt their approach for each match.
“We should sit down as a technical team and see how best we can prepare for this tournament,” Baxter said.
Namibia coach Ricardo Manetti told the Caf website: “We will use this Afcon to gain experience against big teams.
“It is the third time Namibia participates in this tournament. My goal is to make sure we do not wait another 10-year period before another qualification. We want to win a game during the group stage.”
2019 Africa Cup of Nations Draw
Group A: Egypt, DR Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe
Group B: Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi
Group C: Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania
Group D: Morocco, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Namibia
Group E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola
Group F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, Guinea-Bissau@ashfakmohamed