19 September 2013
Host country South Africa were handed a tough draw for the 2014 African Nations Championship (Chan) when the groups for the finals were decided at the Confederation of African Football’s (Caf’s) headquarters in Cairo, Egypt on Wednesday.
The annual Chan finals feature African national teams made up entirely of players from the domestic leagues of the different countries. South Africa is hosting the tournament from 11 January to 1 February 2014.
At Wednesday’s draw, Bafana Bafana were drawn in Group A together with Mozambique Mali and Nigeria.
Reigning African champions Nigeria are ranked 4th in Africa and 36th in the world in the latest Fifa rankings, with Mali just behind them at 5th and 38th. South Africa is ranked 12th on the continent (68th in the world), and Mozambique 32nd (116th).
In August, Nigeria recorded their sixth win in eight outings against South Africa, beating Bafana 2-0 in Durban to win the 2013 Nelson Mandela Challenge. And it was Mali who put an end to Bafana’s strong run in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in February, winning the penalty shootout 3-1 after the teams ended 1-1 in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
“It is a tough draw, probably the toughest of the four groups, but I welcome it,” Bafana coach Gordon Igesund told the South African Football Association following the draw. “We could have drawn anyone and it could still have been tough because there are no easy matches any more in international competition.
“It will also give the boys a massive boost should they qualify for the next stage having accounted for some of the big names in the early stages.
“We are playing at home, and that should galvanise us to do well,” Igesund said, adding: “We are going to need all our best players so we can do well in this event.”
Bafana Bafana will start their Chan campaign against Mozambique at Cape Town Stadium on 11 January before taking on Mali on 15 January and Nigeria on 19 January at the same venue.
Group matches will also be played at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town, Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, and Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.
Polokwane will also host one quarterfinal match, while Bloemfontein will host one quarterfinal and both semi-finals. Cape Town Cape Town will host two quarterfinals as well as the third-place playoff and the final on 1 February.