While most observers will agree that Bafana Bafana have a tough draw at the Africa Cup of Nations, coach Stuart Baxter feels that the other teams will also be wary of the 1996 champions.
South Africa are in Group D alongside Morocco, Ivory Coast and Namibia, and begin their campaign on June 24 against the Ivorians in Cairo.
Bafana were on Pot 3, which means that according to the current rankings, Morocco and Ivory Coast are the favourites to advance automatically to the round of 16.
But Baxter’s men could still reach the next stage as one of the top four third-placed teams.
“When I say it is a good group, it is a great challenge for the group of players we have at the moment and their development,” the coach told the Safa website.
“It is a group we can really have a go at without any feeling of inhibitions. They will also feel we are a dangerous opponent.
“In the same breath, we should not discount Namibia, considering the (impressive) way they qualified, they will not be an easy target for anybody.
“So in terms of this group, I think it is a difficult one, but a good one.”
Here is a complete AFCON Match schedule! pic.twitter.com/P4mcZDrYiR— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) April 12, 2019
With league seasons drawing to a close over the next month or so, Baxter hopes to get the players released as quickly as possible to prepare properly for the Egyptian showpiece.
He has already held talks with a few Middle East countries to set up a pre-tournament camp, as the area is close to Egypt, where he also wants to play a few warm-up matches.
“We need to have these type of negotiations (with the clubs) because it has been a long hard season, and we don’t want to abuse the players and burn them out. We want both club and country to benefit from this exercise,” Baxter added.@ashfakmohamed