Congo DR return to the African football showcase after
missing the last three and wily French coach Claude Le Roy is blending a potent
mix of local talent and Europe-based stars like Anderlecht striker Dieumerci
Many coaches boast before draws that they do not care who emerges from the glass bowl to face their team, but recently appointed South Africa handler Gordon Igesund has opted for a more honest approach.
-I do not want Nigeria in our group - I would prefer to avoid them, he said of a country that humiliated Bafana Bafana (The Boys) 4-0 in the 2004 Africa Cup and consistently have the edge when the nations clash.
-It would be a lie if I said I do not care who will be in our group. I want a favourable draw, stressed a coach given a challenging mandate to reach the semi-finals or face the axe.
A favourable draw for Igesund would mean Angola, Niger and Ethiopia. The east Africans are back after a 30-year absence despite not winning a qualifying tie - they eliminated Benin and Sudan on the away-goal rule.
South Africa will be involved in the 19 January opening double-header at the 90,000-seat Soccer City stadium in Soweto before moving to Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban for two other Group A fixtures.
Zambia play all their Group C matches in north-eastern city Nelspruit -- one of nine to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ - and a separate draw decides whether it is Rustenburg or Port Elizabeth for Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.
It will be the second time South Africa stage the tournament and once again they were not the original choice - replacing cash-strapped Kenya in 1996 and strife-torn Libya next year.