Bafana Bafana players celebrate a Cosafa Cup final victory over Botswana in Windhoek. File poto: MUZI NTOMBELA/BACKPAGEPIX
Bafana Bafana players celebrate a Cosafa Cup final victory over Botswana in Windhoek. File poto: MUZI NTOMBELA/BACKPAGEPIX

Bafana Bafana will have to wait a while longer to find out their path to the World Cup in Qatar after the Confederation of African Football (Caf) surprisingly revealed only the preliminary round draw in Cairo on Monday.

Caf had been expected to reveal the full draw for preliminary round and group stages‚ but did not‚ in keeping with a low-key buildup to the qualifiers that included Fifa’s website incorrectly leaving Zimbabwe out of the pots for the preliminaries.  

Bafana’s seeding means they have received a bye in the opening round‚ but for many Premier Soccer League players‚ it will be crunch time in the September qualifiers.

Zimbabwe have been drawn against Somalia‚ which should be a routine win for the Warriors‚ even if coach Sunday Chidzambwa recently walked out on the team. Namibia‚ who could also have a new coach‚ must travel north to take on Eritrea‚ as do Lesotho‚ who have been drawn against Ethiopia.

Malawi will face off against Botswana in an all-Southern African tie. The same is true for Mauritius and Mozambique‚ while Angola face a tough tie against rapidly-improving Gambia‚ who are led by former Free State Stars coach Tom Saintfiet.

The ties will be played over home-and-away legs in September.

The 14 winners will join the continent’s top-ranked 26 sides‚ including Bafana‚ who have been exempted from the initial round of qualifiers‚ in the next draw to be held on a date still to be decided.

Those 40 teams will be split into 10 groups of four for the second qualifying round. The 10 group winners will be drawn against each other in home-and-away fixtures‚ with the five victors advancing to Qatar 2022.

World Cup preliminary round draw

Ethiopia vs Lesotho
Somalia vs Zimbabwe
Eritrea vs Namibia
Burundi vs Tanzania
Djibouti vs Eswatini 
Botswana vs Malawi
Gambia vs Angola
Liberia vs Sierra Leone
Mauritius vs Mozambique
Sao Tomé & Principe vs Guinea Bissau
South Sudan vs Equatorial Guinea
Comoros Islands vs Togo
Chad vs Sudan
Seychelles vs Rwanda