The draw for 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers was concluded in Johannesburg earlier this year, with Bafana Bafana placed in Group K alongside Zimbabwe, Liberia and Morocco in what is sure to be a challenging group for them.
However, it has now been dramatically confirmed that Zimbabwe have been booted from qualifying, with Group K to retain just three teams, with two set to qualify from South Africa, Liberia and Morocco.
Below is the CAF statement which will have major ramifications for Bafana:
As a consequence of having failed to have their suspensions by FIFA set aside, CAF has confirmed that both Kenya and Zimbabwe will not participate in the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 qualifiers.
The qualifiers will kick-off on the first day of June 2022.
CAF had included them in the official draw earlier in April 2022 on condition that the suspension must be lifted two weeks before their first match day.
Kenya and Zimbabwe, suspended for political interference, have not yet met the criteria required by the FIFA Congress as a prerequisite for lifting their suspension. As a result:
Because of the suspension, the following will apply:
– The two associations; Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA)will be considered losers and eliminated from the competition.
– Groups C and K will be composed only of three teams and the order of the matches will be maintained in accordance with the match schedule that has been communicated to the teams after the draw.
– The first and runner-up teams of those groups will qualify to the final tournament.
Previously, SAFA president Danny Jordaan has suggested Bafana boss Hugo Broos shouldn’t worry about his ‘job security’ ahead of the Afcon qualifiers.
The Afcon finals will be hosted by Ivory Coast who lifted the converted trophy in 2015 under the tutelage of Herve Renard. Senegal will be the defending champions after defeating Egypt on penalties in the 2021 edition, while Bafana will be desperate to simply make a return to the tournament.
South Africa will be aiming to qualify for the continental showpiece after missing out on that event in Cameroon last year, with Bafana coach Hugo Broos having already stated that this is a non-negotiable goal for the team.
I’s interesting to note that Jordaan has suggested there is “no jeopardy” to Broos’ job if South Africa fails to make it to the Ivory Coast, which may well be an important message to reduce any unnecessary pressure at this point.
However, Broos has previously stated there can be no excuses for failing to qualify.
“The plan is, first, there will be no excuses; we have to qualify for Afcon 2023. No excuses. This will be my responsibility,” Broos stated.
“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 have to 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 2023 AFCON QUALIFIERS DRAW IN FULL, WITH BAFANA IN GROUP K
Group A: Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome
Group B: Cape Verde, Togo, Eswatini, Burkina Faso
Group C: Namibia, Burundi, Cameroon
Group D: Ethiopia, Malawi, Guinea, Egypt
Group E: Angola, Madagascar, Central African Republic, Ghana
Group F: Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Algeria
Group G: The Gambia, Congo, South Sudan, Mali
Group H: Lesotho, Comoros, Zambia, Ivory Coast
Group I: Gabon, Mauritania, Sudan, DR Congo
Group J: Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Botswana, Tunisia
Group K: Liberia, South Africa, Morocco
Group L: Mozambique, Rwanda, Benin, Senegal