Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations final draw, which will see his charges face Angola, Cape Verde and Morocco.
|Gordon Igesund @ Backpagepix
All three opponents have never beaten Bafana in any competitive match and this will come as a huge relief for the hosts. Bafana met Cape Verde twice and won on both occasions (2-0 in Bloemfontein and 2-1 in Praia).
The Palancas Negras of Angola will be looking for their first victory against Bafana. In the previ9ous six meetings, Bafana won three and drew the rest. Against Morocco, Bafana have two victories and a draw.
Expectations are high and failure to advance past the group stages will not go down well with the locals. While Cape Verde and Angola may appear relatively easy to deal with, it is Morocco that may present Bafana with some real challenge.
"All the draws were tough and I think this is a fairly good draw for us," said Bafana coach Gordon Igesund. "It was touch and go because it was either going to be Nigeria or Angola."
But Igesund admitted that it would not be an easy ride especially with Morocco in the same group. "I think Morocco are the giants in Africa," he said.
Bafana will open the Nations Cup campaign with a clash against Cape Verde on January 19 at Soccer City. The match will kick-off at 6pm (CAT, GMT +2). After that they will fly to their base in Durban to face Angola at Moses Mabhida Stadium on January 23. Their final group match will also be in Durban against Morocco on January 27.
Meanwhile, Moroccan coach Rachid Taoussi said he happy his team missed some of the tournament's so-callled favourites. "It's a good group. It's hard, since South Africa is the host country and has home support."
Nigeria will tackle Burkina Faso in their first match. "They are a very good team. There is quality in every side that qualified so our task is to go home and strategize," said coach Stephen Keshi.
"Of course, defending champions Zambia are very good and so are our other opponents, Ethiopia," he added. Ivory Coast will have to finish above Tunisia, Algeria and Togo to win its group. "It's undeniably the most difficult group," said coach Sabri Lamouchi.
But his confidence remained firm, though the team has only taken home the cup once before, in 1992.
"Ivory Coast is the favourite. We were favourites before the draw, and still are after it. We will have to prove it on the field," said Lamouchi.
Defending champions Zambia, who lifted the trophy against all odds this year, would prove their mettle once again, according to coach Herve Renard. "We are confident. We are here to make history. We did it in 2012. No one was able to say Zambia will win in 2012," he said.
"We stayed a small team but we managed to go very far." Having travelled to South Africa often to train, the Zambians felt "at home" there, added Renard.