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Bafana not intimidated ahead of draw

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BAFANA Bafana are not afraid of anyone as they await to know who they will face in their effort to qualify for the next World Cup.

BAFANA Bafana are not afraid of anyone as they await to know who they will face in their effort to qualify for the next World Cup.

Bafana haven’t qualified for football’s biggest showpiece since 2002 in South Korea and Japan. They last played at the World Cup in 2010 having earned their place as host nation. They missed out on the 2014 and 2018 editions in Brazil and Russia respectively.

The draw for the 2022 World Cup to be hosted by Qatar will take place tonight in Cairo where 40 teams will be divided into 10 groups. 

Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki says they will be ready for whoever they are pitted against.

“We’ve got 40 teams in Africa and we are placed number 13. The top 10 teams are seeded. So, you’ll play any of those top teams. Now of late, there’s no longer such things as small football nations. All the nations are actually working very hard to do well,” Ntseki said.

“The respect you’ll give to Tunisia, Ghana and Nigeria is the same respect you have to give to Namibia. It is the same respect that you have to give to Malawi because all of them deserve to be in the top 40. They all want to qualify for the World Cup.”

Favourable draw 

But what would he consider a favourable draw for Bafana?

“A good draw? We are going to be in a group of four teams where we will have to work hard and profile the opposition accordingly. We need to do well so that we can go into the top 20 then the top 10 and thereafter the top five that goes to the finals.”

Besides the 2010 tournament that they hosted, Bafana have qualified for two other World Cups.

 In 1998, they qualified for their maiden World Cup in France under Clive Barker but were led by Frenchman Phillippe Troussier at the tournament. 

The last time Bafana managed to quality for the World Cup was back in 2002 when Carlos Quieros was in charge. Like Barker, Quieros was fired before the tournament and replaced by Jomo Sono for the finals.

Stuart Baxter failed to steer South Africa to qualification for Germany 2006 as well as Russia 2018. Gordon Igesund was in charge when the country failed to book a ticket to Brazil in 2014.  

“The World Cup qualifiers are more of a marathon than a sprint. It is going to be very tough. We are expecting to play against any of those 39 teams and we need to prepare properly,” Ntseki said.

• The 40 teams that will be in the draw tonight are:

Senegal, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Ghana, DRC Congo, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Uganda, Cape Verde, Gabon, Guinea, Uganda, Zambia, Cape Verde, Benin, Congo Brazzaville, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique, Kenya, Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Zimbabwe, Mau, Namibia, Giunea-Bissau, Malawi, Angola, Togo, Sudan, Rwanda, Angola, Togo, Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Liberia and Djibouti.