Harare – After mixed fortunes in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in which only three countries from Southern Africa made the cut, national soccer teams have shifted their focus to 2022 World Cup qualification.
The global showpiece will be held in Qatar next year.
The Comoros, Malawi and Zimbabwe will represent the Confederation of Southern African Football Associations at AFCON in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6, 2022. And the World Cup qualifiers offer an opportunity to regional heavyweights like Angola, South Africa and Zambia to redeem themselves.
The first group matches in the World Cup qualifiers are on June 5, with the next round of matches between three and five days later as the road to Qatar gets underway.
Only the top teams in the 10 groups of four will progress to the playoffs, which will determine the five African nations that will make it to Qatar.
Namibia face off against Congo, Togo and Senegal; and the Brave Warriors will be expected to have a realistic shot at glory in their group.
South Africa and Zimbabwe face each other in a group which also has Ethiopia and Ghana – a mini-league that is tough on the two Southern African nations.
This grouping is not the only one that pits teams from the region against each other.
Malawi and Mozambique square off in a group that contains West African giants Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon. Madagascar and Tanzania have also been paired against each other, as well as with Benin and the DRC.One-time World Cup participants Angola play Egypt, Gabon and Libya; while Zambia have Tunisia, Mauritania and Equatorial Guinea to contend with.