All eyes will be on the Ivorians in 2023, to host an exciting and beautiful 34th edition of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON). Bafana Bafana assistant coach Helman Mkhalele has welcomed the AFCON 2023 qualifiers draw which put his side in Group K alongside North African giants Morocco, neighbours Zimbabwe and West Africa’s Liberia. The draw was held in Randburg in Johannesburg Tuesday night and some tricky match ups were produced for the qualifiers, to get underway in June 2022. The top two teams in the group qualify to the 24-team AFCON.

Mkhalele believes that they received a challenging draw but says they will be up to the task: “ I would say this is a tough draw you know because we have played Zimbabwe eeeh for a number of time, and also I believe they know us as much as we know them you know and also I again yes there is not much that has been said about Liberia but you know going to these games especially the qualifiers you know every team there make sure that they prepare quite very well so it’s not an easy draw but for us it’s to make sure we go out there, we prepare well”

On the other hand Former Bafana Bafana captain Lucas “Rhuuu” Radebe says it’s important for Bafana to show their mettle against the big guns on the continent. Despite the inconsistence in the national team, Radebe believes that they have what it take to qualify:
“We haven’t done so well, we haven’t qualified in a long time and to be honest we haven’t been that consistent to be able to compete you know in this level, so I think this is a good chance to do so and I do even say that we are capable of qualifying”

Ivory Coast and Chelsea legend Salomon Kalou, a member of the 2015 AFCON winning team, has no doubt that they will deliver. The hosts will still take part in the qualifiers just to get game; they have been pitted in Group H with COSAFA countries: Zambia, Comoros and Lesotho. Kalou goes on to assure that the Elephants will also rise to the occasion on home soil “It’s a good group because at end of the day we know we don’t have a pressure to qualify, so we gonna have to prepare our team, this is like the friendly to us, we have to prepare those teams, once we get to prepared them I think they can be ready to host the Cup an try to keep it at home”

By Velile Mnyandu

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