Cape Town — Bafana Bafana have been drawn in Group K for the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers alongside Morocco, Zimbabwe, and Liberia.
The draw might end in a bonus for three of the Group K teams since Zimbabwe is presently suspended by the world's football controlling body FIFA. If the suspension is not lifted by the time the qualifiers start the group will be reduced to three teams. Instead of playing six matches, the Group K teams will only play four qualifiers.
As is the case in all groups, the group winner and runner-up will advance to the 24-team finals in Ivory Coast in 2023. The other exception is Group H which includes the host nation Cote d’Ivoire, which gains automatic qualification. The next best performing team in the group that includes Zambia, Comoros and Lesotho will qualify for the tournament starting June 2023.
The draw took place in Johannesburg, on Tuesday evening. It was conducted by the CAF Director of Competitions Samson Adamu. He was assisted by African football legends Lucas Radebe of South Africa and Ivorian Solomon Kalou.
There will be 12 groups of four teams each for the qualifiers. Hosts Ivory Coast won the trophy in 2015 under the tutelage of Herve Renard.
Senegal are the defending champions, after defeating Egypt on penalties in the 2021 edition.
Bafana Bafana last qualified in 2019 and missed out on the 2021 edition in Cameroon. Before the draw, Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos was confident the South Africans will qualify for Afcon 2023.
“The plan is, first, there will be no excuses; we must qualify for Afcon 2023. No excuses. This will be my responsibility,” said Broos.
“We are rebuilding a team. We came very close (to advancing to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers).
“One goal killed us (against Ghana). Now, for Afcon 2023, there will be no excuses. I don’t have any excuses anymore.
“We must focus everything on getting to Afcon next year in June/July, taking place in Cote d’Ivoire. It is also important for the development and experience of the team.”
The full draw reads, Group A: Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome / Mauritius
Group B: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Togo, Eswatini
Group C: Cameroon, Kenya, Namibia, Burundi
Group D: Egypt, Guinea, Malawi, Ethiopia
Group E: Ghana, Madagascar, Angola, Central African Republic
Group F: Algeria, Uganda, Niger, Tanzania
Group G: Mali, Congo, Gambia, South Sudan
Group H: Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia, Comoros, Lesotho
Group I: DR Congo, Gabon, Mauritania, Sudan
Group J: Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Botswana
Group K: Morocco, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Liberia
Group L: Senegal, Benin, Mozambique, Rwanda