With their Africa Cup of Nations hopes extinguished‚ South Africa will now look ahead of the draw on June 24 for the final round of qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Bafana Bafana’s lowly position on the FIFA World Rankings means they will face an arduous road to the finals as they are likely to be placed in Pot 3 for the draw at Confederation of African Football (CAF) headquarters in Cairo.
That will be confirmed later this week when FIFA releases the seeds for the group stage qualifiers‚ but certainly Bafana will be placed no higher.
The 20 remaining teams will be drawn four sides‚ with only the pool winner advancing to the World Cup in two years’ time.
The possibilities for Bafana look frightening with the likelihood they will face one of Algeria‚ Côte d’Ivoire‚ Ghana‚ Tunisia or Senegal as the top seeds in their group.
The latter are probably the most appealing of that quintet.
The second seeds in the pools are likely to be Egypt‚ DR Congo‚ Cape Verde Islands‚ Guinea and Mali‚ with Guinea probably the lesser of those sides.
Shakes Mashaba’s side will probably avoid Nigeria‚ Congo‚ Morocco and Cameroon‚ who should all be in Pot 3 with South Africa.
Pot 4 would usually be the also-rans but in this competition there are plenty of dangers as Uganda‚ Burkina Faso‚ Zambia‚ Gabon and Libya are likely to make up that quintet.
A probable worse-case scenario for Bafana would be something like a pool with Algeria‚ Egypt and Burkina Faso. The best they could likely hope for would be Senegal‚ Guinea and Uganda.
The qualifiers will start in the week of October 3-9‚ 2016 and will be completed by November 2017.