There are a number of matchups between COSAFA sides in the group stage qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, including one pool that contains three teams from the region!
Zambia, Lesotho and Comoros Islands will all do battle in Group H, though only one side will be able to advance to the finals as they also have tournament hosts Ivory Coast in the pool, who qualify automatically.
It will make this year’s COSAFA Cup, due to be staged in Durban after the first two rounds of the qualifiers, all the more important as a sighter for the sides. They could potentially clash there too.
South Africa and Zimbabwe could meet again in Group K, though that is dependent on FIFA lifting their suspension of the Zimbabwe Football Association by the start of the qualifiers.
The two nations clashed in the recent World Cup preliminaries, where they drew 0-0 in Harare and South Africa won 1-0 in Johannesburg. The other two teams in their Cup of Nations qualifier pool are Morocco and Liberia.
Angola and Madagascar will face-off in Group E and both might fancy their passage to the finals if they can see off inconsistent Ghana and Central African Republic.
Eswatini might also fancy an upset in Group B as they tackle Burkina Faso, Cape Verde Islands and Togo. Finishing as one of the top two in the pool seems achievable.
The same goes for Namibia in Group C, who face Burundi, Cameroon and Kenya. The latter may also not take part in the qualifiers if their FIFA suspension is not lifted.
That would leave it as a three-team group and Namibia likely in a battle with Burundi for a place in the finals.
Malawi have it tougher in Group D as they tackle Egypt, Ethiopia and Guinea. It is certainly achievable for them to finish top-two, but there are no easy games there.
Botswana are up against Equatorial Guinea, Libya and Tunisia in Group J, while Mozambique meet Benin, Rwanda and champions Senegal in Group L.
Mauritius are still hoping they may be able to participate in the next stage. They lost to Sao Tome e Principe in the previous round, but the COSAFA side have lodged a protest against their defeat and the hearing for that must still take place.
If they are successful, they will meet Guinea Bissau, Nigeria or Sierra Leone in Group A.
The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations group stage qualifiers draw:
Group A: Guinea Bissau, Mauritius or Sao Tome e Principe, Nigeria, Sierra Leone
Group B: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde Islands, Eswatini, Togo
Group C: Burundi, Cameroon, Kenya, Namibia
Group D: Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Malawi
Group E: Angola, Central African Republic, Ghana, Madagascar
Group F: Algeria, Niger, Tanzania, Uganda
Group G: Congo, Gambia, Mali, South Sudan
Group H: Comoros Islands, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Zambia
Group I: DR Congo, Gabon, Mauritania, Sudan
Group J: Botswana, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Tunisia
Group K: Liberia, Morocco, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Group L: Benin, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal