Caf likely to put further freeze on Bafana Afcon qualifying matches

Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki.
Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Bafana Bafana are unlikely to see any action before September with their next scheduled Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on the brink of being cancelled.

South Africa’s national team have already seen last month’s two Group C qualifiers against tiny Sao Tome e Principe both home and away – postponed and were next set to host Ghana on June 6.

But the Confederation of African Football (Caf) look likely to follow in the footsteps of Uefa‚ who called off all scheduled internationals for June because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Caf president Ahmad said earlier this week it was still too early to call off the June rounds of qualifiers but usually follows up on what Uefa are doing.

Uefa suspended all June matches after a video conference on Wednesday of their 55 member associations.

It is also likely that Fifa will again issue permission for clubs to refuse call-ups for their players for international matches as they did in March when it still looked like some continents‚ including Africa‚ were going ahead with international games while others had already suspended them as the deadly virus began to make its impact beyond China.

Now‚ the international calendar for the rest of the year will have to be shifted around again.

Already the start of the African qualifiers for the next World Cup have been set back – not by the coronavirus but before that when Caf changed the date for the 2021 Nations Cup finals from mid-2021 to the start of next year.

That means they had to hasten up the completion of the qualifying competition‚ where 48 countries are chasing 24 places at the next January’s finals in Cameroon.

They are divided into 12 groups of four countries each‚ with the top two finishers in each group qualifying for the finals.

South Africa are in Group C and in second place after the first two rounds of matches‚ which were played in November‚ behind Ghana (six points) and alongside Sudan on three points. Sao Tome e Principe‚ who were always expected to be the whipping boys‚ have no points.

It is now likely that Caf will play the last four rounds of Nations Cup qualifiers in September (two matches) and October (two matches) and then start the World Cup qualifiers in November.

In the bid for a place at the Qatar 2022 World Cup‚ Bafana are are also drawn with Ghana and must also get past Ethiopia and Zimbabwe in Group G. But it is a much tougher group with only the winner advancing to the playoff for a place at the World Cup finals.