Bafana drawn with Morocco in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying group
Bafana Bafana were drawn in a relatively comfortable, though perhaps also deceptively tricky Group K in the qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday night, along with Morocco, Zimbabwe and Liberia on Tuesday night.
Morocco are easily the favourites in the group, from which the top two of qualify for the tournament in Ivory Coast. The group stage matches start in June.
SA did not qualify for the Covid-19-delayed 2021 Nations Cup, won by Senegal on penalties over Egypt in the final in Cameroon on February 6. In 2019 they reached the quarterfinals by shocking hosts Egypt in the final.
Morocco are ranked 24th in the world and second to first-placed Senegal in Africa. The Atlas Lions topped Group C at Cameroon 2021, beat Malawi 2-1 in the second round and lost 2-1 in extra time to eventual runners-up Egypt in the quarterfinals.
Zimbabwe, ranked 33rd in Africa and 122nd in the world, ended bottom of Group B in the last Nations Cup, and were beaten home and away by Bafana in the 2022 World Cup qualifying group stages last year.
Zimbabwe were part of the draw despite having been suspended by Fifa, and may still not be part of the qualifiers if the ban is not lifted.
Liberia, ranked 46th in Africa and 149th in the world, have only qualified for two Nations Cups, exiting in the group stages in SA in 1996 and Mali in 2002.
SA are ranked 69th in the world. They were seeded in Pot 2 of the four pots in the draw at pay-channel SuperSport's studios in Randburg.
The pots were decided by virtue of Fifa rankings. Bafana, ranked 13th in Africa, missed the top pot by one place.
The Nations Cup in Ivory Coast takes place from June 23 to July 23 next year.