July 20, 2024

Bafana Drawn With Familiar Foes In The 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

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Bafana Bafana will have to win their group to secure an automatic qualification for the world showpiece.

FILE PHOTO: Bafana Bafana's star, Percy Tau during the clash between South Africa and Sudan in November 2019. PICTURE: Backpagepix

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ABIDJAN: Prior to hosting it, South Africa had last played in the global showpiece in the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup.

Bafana Bafana have been dealt a tough draw in their quest for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification. South Africa would rekindle rivalries with the African giants, Nigeria, in Group C, along with neighbours: Zimbabwe and Lesotho.

Hugo Broos’s men, who were not seeded for the draw that was done in the Ivory Coast on 13 July 2023, will fight for the World Cup spot against the Super Eagles, Rwanda, Benin, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, whose international ban FIFA has just lifted.

The Belgian tactician Broos has been tasked with helping Bafana Bafana to make their first World Cup appearance since hosting the world showpiece in 2010. Prior to hosting it, South Africa had last played in the global showpiece in the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup.

There is an air of optimism in the Bafana Bafana camp at the moment, following the country’s qualification for the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), to be hosted by Ivory Cost next year in January.

Bafana Bafana will have to win their group to secure automatic qualification for the world showpiece. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has divided the 54 association members into nine groups, with each group having six countries. All group winners automatically qualify for the 2026 World Cup, which will have 48 instead of 32 countries going forward.

Africa’s participation will increase from five to nine countries. Potentially, it could have 10 countries, as the best four runner-ups will compete against each other to determine the CAF’s representative in the FIFA playoff tournament.

The African world cup qualifiers would run for a span of two years in a series of 10 match days, beginning in November 2023 until November 2025.

The rest of the qualification groups are as follows:

Group A: Egypt, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Djibouti.

Group B: Senegal, Congo DR, Mauritania, Togo, Sudan and South Sudan.

Group C: Nigeria, South Africa, Benin, Rwanda, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

Group D: Cameroon, Cape Verde, Angola, Libya, Eswatini and Mauritius.

Group E: Morocco, Zambia, Congo, Tanzania, Niger and Eritrea

Group F: Ivory Coast, Gabon, Kenya, Gambia, Burundi and Seychelles.

Group G: Algeria, Guinea, Uganda, Botswana, Mozambique and Somalia

Group H: Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Malawi, Liberia and Sao Tome and Principe

Group I: Mali, Ghana, Madagascar, Central African Republic, Comoros and Chad.

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