Can Bafana capitalise on a kind Afcon draw?
Just like South Africans, Angolans and Moroccans are celebrating having drawn Bafana. That’s how far the national team’s stock has fallen, writes Timothy Molobi
It may have been deemed a kind Afcon draw for Bafana Bafana – but the same can be said about their opponents.
And hosting an event also doesn’t guarantee a smooth passage through a tournament.
Just ask the selfsame Bafana team. South Africa was the first nation to exit the World Cup at the first hurdle in 2010.
It was the same with Euro 2008 co-host’s Switzerland and Austria, whose tournament aspirations did not venture beyond the group stages.
After Wednesday’s draw, all coaches were satisfied with meeting one another.
Morocco’s Rachid Taoussi was happy his team had missed some of the tournament’s favourites.
“It’s a good group. It’s hard, since South Africa is the host country and has home support,” said Taoussi.
Gordon Igesund was equally happy with the outcome, saying: “All the draws were tough, but I think this is a fairly good draw for us.”
Cape Verde’s Lucio Antunes could not hide his excitement, saying opening their maiden tournament against Bafana at the FNB Stadium would be a dream come true.
“I never imagined I would be playing in front of a capacity crowd at the stadium that hosted the final of a World Cup,” said Antunes.
Angola’s Gustavo Ferrin said they would take one game at a time. It is not surprising that the so-called weaker team in the group, Cape Verde, is the highest ranked of the four.
The islanders are 51 on the latest Fifa standings, with Angola the lowest ranked at 83.
Morocco and South Africa are ranked 75 and 76, respectively.
Bafana’s 1996 winning skipper, Neil Tovey, thinks the 2013 Afcon trophy will remain in South Africa.
The former Kaizer Chiefs defender who played a pivotal role in the 1996 winning team said he sees history repeating itself in January.
Tovey says he draws his confidence from the fact that Wednesday’s draw seemed to favour the hosts, which mirrors the 1996 draw.
On their way to lifting the 1996 trophy, Bafana were drawn against Cameroon, Angola and Egypt.
“When we won the 1996 tournament we played against Cameroon. Had they not been knocked out by Cape Verde, they would have been our opponents again. My gut feel is we’ll pull this off,” said Tovey