Bafana in Afcon 'Group of Death'
Bafana Bafana have been drawn into Group C alongside Algeria, Ghana and Senegal.
JOHANNESBURG - Bafana were handed a difficult African Nations Cup draw on Wednesday, grouped with fellow World Cup finalists Ghana as well as Senegal and Africa's top team, Algeria.
Shakes Mashaba's team will have another daunting task to overcome the odds, especially against Algeria, who are ranked no. 1 on the continent after their fine form in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Algeria won five of their six Afcon qualifiers in the quick-fire three-month qualifying campaign.
Bafana finished top of their group in which holders Nigeria were eliminated while Senegal edged out record-winners Egypt.
With Bafana also in firing mood, this could be another testing ground for them to refine their strategy.
This is one of the toughest group in the tournament, with the likes of Ghana looking to restore their pride after their disgraceful exit at the World Cup.
Ghana will go into the tournament with Avram Grant as their new coach after he was appointed to the job last week.
Hosts Equatorial Guinea, who stepped in to replace Morocco with just two months to prepare for the 16-team event that runs from 17 January to 8 February, will open the tournament in Bata against Congo.
The two countries are in Group A with Gabon and Burkina Faso, surprise runners-up at the last finals in South Africa in 2013.
The 2012 winners Zambia head Group B with the Cape Verde Islands, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tunisia.
Tiny Cape Verde, the smallest country in the field, finished ahead of Zambia in their qualifying group.
Group D will see Cameroon and the Ivory Coast resume their battle from the qualifiers.
The two sides drew 0-0 last month in Abidjan after Cameroon rebounded from a poor World Cup by thumping the Ivorians 4-1 at home in September
Guinea and Mali are the other two teams in Group D.
Morocco were stripped of the right to host the event last month after asking for a postponement because of fears that the Ebola virus could be brought to their country by visiting fans.
Morocco's request was rejected by the Confederation of African Football, who asked Equatorial Guinea to step in as emergency hosts.
Additional reporting by Reuters.