Nigeria will face the defending champions, Zambia when the African Cup of Nations kicks off January after being drawn in the same group C with the East Africans at the draw held in Durban, South Africa Wednesday evening.
Meanwhile, Cape Verde, which booked its first participation after upsetting continental heavyweight Cameroon, will play the host, South Africa, in the opening match in Durban on January 19.
Before the draw began, a moment of silence was observed in honour of Bafana Bafana assistant coach Thomas Madigage, who was killed in a car accident last Thursday.
The ceremonies included a lot of music and the unveiling of the mascot, a hippo.
In a speech, South African president, President Zuma said, "We are counting down the last 86 days before South Africa hosts the 29th edition of Africa's biggest soccer festival. We are humbled by the trust that CAF has once again place on SA and our people to host this event."
The event's Local Organising Committee chairman, Chief Mwelo Nonkonyane said South Africa was aware of the responsibility of hosting such a big tournament, promising, “We will not let CAF or Africa down."
Before the draw, some of the coaches expressed their feelings:
Current Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund: “The atmosphere is electric here and the moment is here to see who we will play. That is always important because then you can do your preparations correctly once you know who you will face. The bottom line is simple, we have to play them all, we will be ready to play whoever we get. Playing at home is a big advantage.”
Former Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker, winner of the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996: “I feel another big vibe coming, I think Gordon [Igesund] will deliver. You can’t worry about the draw, you have to play everybody if you want to win the trophy. The Class of 2012 have a great technical team and playing at home, they can do it.”
Congo DR Coach Claude Le Roy: “I have a long story with the Africa Cup of Nations. It is a huge honour to be in South Africa, the country of Nelson Mandela. We have a good team, not a superb team but a good team. Qualification for the second round will be a success.”
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi: “Anything that comes our way, we will take it. Playing South Africa is a possibility, they are a brother country, if we play them in the final it will be great.”
Zambia coach Herve Renard: “There is no pressure, the only pressure was to become part of this tournament. Now we are here and we have to just enjoy it now. If I can avoid Nigeria I will be happy!”
The full draw:
GROUP A (Durban) A1 - South Africa
A2 - Angola
A3 - Morocco
A4 - Cape Verde
GROUP B (Port Elizabeth) B1 - Ghana
B2 - Mali
B3 - Niger
B4 - DR Congo
GROUP C (Mbombela) C1 - Zambia
C2 - Nigeria
C3 - Burkina Faso
C4 - Ethiopia
GROUP D (Rustenburg) D1 - Cote d'Ivoire
D2 - Tunisia
D3 - Algeria
D4 - Togo
Nigeria, which will commence preparation next month with a friendly match against Venezuela in Miami, Florida, may camp in Zimbabwe to acclimatize with South Africa’s weather.
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