Explained: Why Bafana Bafana won’t play September AFCON Qualifiers

Explained: Why Bafana Bafana won’t play September AFCON Qualifiers
Credit: Icon Sport

Bafana Bafana are keen to have an impressive campaign at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast next year.

The South African national football team is pressing all the buttons, hoping they hit the right one. The South African national football team wants to ensure they do well in Ivory Coast.

The rest of Africa will be doing battle next month as various countries continue their mission to piece together the final pieces of the jigsaw. The big question is – Which teams will be in Ivory Coast next year?

As Africa goes to battle, Bafana Bafana will not be in any competitive games. The reason is not far-fetched. It's not like it's the secret of the Sphinx, but we'll explain why Bafana Bafana will not be participating in any AFCON qualifying games next month.

Bafana Bafana celebrate scoring a goal
Credit @MpeshSithole Twitter

Bafana Bafana in a group of three teams

Following the draw made for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualification tournament, Bafana Bafana were drawn in group K.

The group comprised four teams looking to pick up the two available tickets for the showpiece tournament in Ivory Coast.

The four teams drawn in the group were South Africa, Morocco, Liberia and Zimbabwe.

Group K was one of the 12 groups to produce 24 teams for the tournament scheduled for 2024.

However, things changed in May 2022. CAF announced that Zimbabwe would not be part of the qualifiers due to the suspension of the Zimbabwe Football Association by FIFA.

The decision left the group with three teams and Bafana Bafana playing only Morocco and Liberia twice each.

Bafana Bafana concluded these matches in the last round of games, with their initial final match against Zimbabwe set for September.

How Bafana Bafana qualified for AFCON 2023

Bafana Bafana played four matches in the group stage to qualify for the 2023 AFCON in Ivory Coast next year.

Bafana Bafana played their first game against the Atlas Lions of Morocco and lost 2-1 at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium, Rabat.

The South African national team stumbled again in their next game. They took on Liberia and let a two-goal lead slip as they drew 2-2 at the Orlando Stadium, Johannesburg.

Lyle Foster had scored a brace to give Bafana what seemed like a comfortable lead but they fluffed their lines.

They made amends for the draw by beating the Lone Stars of Liberia 2-1 in the return fixture.

In their final game against the Atlas Lions of Morocco, Bafana Bafana exacted revenge with another 2-1 victory.

They sit atop the table, but Morocco could go top if they beat Liberia in September.

SAFA organises friendlies for Bafana Bafana

With no competitive match for the Bafana Bafana next month, the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) wants to ensure the national team is not idle.

While the rest of Africa will be busy, SAFA has outlined a couple of friendly matches to help the manager fine-tune his team.

SAFA chief executive officer Lydia Monyepao officially announced that the Hugo Broos-led side will welcome Namibia on September 9.

The Democratic Republic of Congo will be their next opponent in a match held three days later.

Bafana Bafana will then wait till October for their next game.

On October 13, they will play against Eswatini before taking on AFCON hosts Ivory Coast on October 17.

The venues for these games are yet to be confirmed, but SAFA has said they will communicate the details to the public soon. South Africa should play some of these matches in Mzansi.

Meanwhile, the draw for next year's Africa Cup of Nations is set for within five days after Bafana Bafana plays Ivory Coast.

This article was most recently revised and updated 7 months ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter. Chooka has a passion for football and has been a fan of Enugu Rangers (over 30 years) and Real Madrid (Since 1996).