Cape Town — Thanks to their world ranking, Bafana Bafana will not be playing in the Africa Cup of Nations Ivory Coast 2023 preliminary qualifying round, which will be determined at a draw on 21 January, in Douala, Cameroon.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) have confirmed that the lowest-ranked teams of its 54 affiliates will play the preliminary qualifying. The winners will advance to the qualifying group stage comprising 48 teams.
Ivory Coast, the hosts for the 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, will play in the group phase. Even if they fall outside the top two places in their group, they will qualify as the hosts.
Ivory Coast, two-time AFCON winners, won the bid in 2014 after seeing off Egypt, Guinea and Zambia for the 2023 event.
Ivory Coast first hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 1984, when Cameroon were crowned winners after defeating Nigeria in the final.
Guinea have been awarded hosts status for AFCON 2025.
In a statement, CAF announced the AFCON 2023 draw date: 'The Africa Cup of Nations, Ivory Coast 2023 Qualifiers draw will be conducted on 21 January 2022, in Douala, Cameroon.
'The preliminary round will be played by a knock-out system; home and away matches and will include the lower-ranked teams as per the FIFA rankings.
'The teams qualified from this round will reach the group stage composed of 48 teams.'
From the 12 groups, the top two teams will advance to the finals, where 24 teams will be playing in Ivory Coast.
CAF also informed that the draw for the 10 remaining Qatar 2022 qualifiers, will be conducted in Cameroon.
“The FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022 African Qualifiers draw will be conducted the following day, 22 January 2022, in Douala, Cameroon.
“The 10 qualified teams will be divided into two levels based on the official FIFA ranking, as published in November 2021.
“The five highest-ranked teams will play against the five lower-ranked teams (the first leg will be played at the home of the lower-ranked teams).
“According to the ranking published on the 19th of November 2021 after the last round, the distribution of the teams for the two pots shall be as follows:
Level 1: Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Nigeria
Level 2: Egypt, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, and DR Congo.
Bafana Bafana are ranked 13th in Africa and are well clear of the zone from which the teams for the preliminary qualifying round will be drawn.
Meanwhile, there was good news for the teams presently in action at AFCON 2021 in Cameroon. Over the weekend, CAF president Patrice Motsepe announced an increase in prize money for the Africa Cup of Nations Cameroon 2021. It is part of Motsepe's commitment to strengthen the status of the competition.
The 2021 winners will pocket $5m (R78m), and the runners-up earn $2.75m (R43m).