Sat, 17 Aug 2019

Cape Town - Bafana Bafana have been drawn alongside Ghana in Group C for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with Sudan and either Mauritius or Sao Tome e Principe rounding off the group.

Stuart Baxter's side who are ranked 72nd in the world rankings were placed in Pot 2 of the qualifying phase for the African showpiece and will go up against the Black Stars who are ranked 50th.

Algeria, who meet Senegal on Friday in the 2019 AFCON final in Cairo, must travel virtually the length of the continent three times during the 2021 qualifying campaign.

The Desert Foxes were placed in Group H with three southern African states, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, when the draw was made in Cairo on Thursday.

There are no direct air links between Algiers and Lusaka, Harare and Gaborone, which will add to the travel time of a squad currently captained by Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez.

It is a good draw for Algeria though, as Zimbabwe flopped in the 2019 tournament, Zambia failed to qualify and Botswana took one point from a possible 18 in their last campaign.

Senegal, whose top player is Liverpool forward Sadio Mane, face a slightly less daunting travel schedule in Group I against Congo Brazzaville, Guinea-Bissau and eSwatini.

The Teranga Lions should finish comfortable winners with Congo and Guinea-Bissau the likeliest contenders for the second qualifying place.

Madagascar, whose qualification for the quarter-finals was the shock of the 2019 Cup of Nations, were put in Group K with the Ivory Coast, Niger and Ethiopia.

The Ivorians appear the probable table-toppers, while the Malagasys set out to prove they are not one-tournament wonders.

Nigeria, who beat Tunisia 1-0 on Wednesday in the third place playoff, will meet fellow west African nations Benin and Sierra Leone plus Lesotho.

Ghana and South Africa are in Group C and both should qualify at the expense of Sudan and the winners of a preliminary round tie between Mauritius and Sao Tome e Principe.

Although automatic qualifiers as hosts, Cameroon will take part to gain competitive match practice, leaving Cape Verde, Mozambique and Rwanda to contest the other Group F place.

Uganda, the strongest of the east African nations at the 2019 tournament, are with Burkina Faso, Malawi and South Sudan or the Seychelles in Group B.

The four two-leg preliminary ties will be played in October and the group phase kicks off the following month with two rounds.

Preliminary round

Liberia v Chad

South Sudan v Seychelles

Mauritius v Sao Tome e Principe

Djibouti v Gambia

First, second legs: Oct 7-15

Group A

Mali, Guinea, Namibia, Liberia/Chad

Group B

Burkina Faso, Uganda, Malawi, South Sudan/Seychelles

Group C

Ghana, South Africa, Sudan, Mauritius/Sao Tome

Group D

Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Angola, Djibouti/Gambia

Group E

Morocco, Mauritania, Central African Republic, Burundi

Group F

Cameroon (hosts), Cape Verde, Mozambique, Rwanda

Group G

Egypt, Kenya, Togo, Comoros

Group H

Algeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana

Group I

Senegal, Congo Brazzaville, Guinea-Bissau, eSwatini (formerly Swaziland)

Group J

Tunisia, Libya, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea

Group K

Ivory Coast, Niger, Madagascar, Ethiopia

Group L

Nigeria, Benin, Sierra Leone, Lesotho

Matchdays: Nov 11-19 (two rounds), Aug 31-Sept 8 2020 (two rounds), Oct 5-13, Nov 9-17

Note: winners and runners-up qualify from each group except F, where Cameroon automatically qualify as hosts with highest placed of other three teams

Did not enter: Eritrea, Somalia

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