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Doctor Khumalo tells Goal.com South Africa about how important the African Cup of Nations draw is for Bafana Bafana and whether he thinks the team can handle the pressure

The African Cup of Nations draw is set to take place on Wednesday night in Durban and will finally decide which teams Bafana Bafana is set to face during the African showpiece group stages.

There is the likelihood that South Africa will have to combat strong teams such as Mali or Tunisia, with their historical nemesis Nigeria also a possibility.  

Even though they will not have to face African football giants such as Ivory Coast or Ghana, the draw in the group stages could still be a tough task for the national side.    

Former Bafana Bafana star midfielder Doctor Khumalo believes that the draw will help South Africa by kick-starting their preparations. Khumalo was an integral part of the 1996 team which beat Tunisia 2-0 in the African Cup of Nations final.   

“If you’re playing in the African Cup of Nations, the draw helps with how you’re going to start with the preparations and how you’re going to approach the tournament itself,” Khumalo told Goal.com South Africa.

“It’s not all about who you are trying to avoid. Any team that is directed towards you, you should be able to face because there were preparations made before.”

With South Africa set to face teams such as Ivory Coast, Zambia or Ghana following the group stages, many are questioning whether or not Bafana Bafana has the depth to combat such talented outfits.

Khumalo believes that the teams may be stronger on paper, but that Zambia’s feats in the last African Cup of Nations should be seen as inspiration.

“Look at Ivory Coast, even though they possess a lot of star players they lost against Zambia. It’s all about who wants it more.”  

Khumalo feels that the draw will give South Africa time to prepare and focus on how they are going to achieve an African Cup of Nations crown in front of their home fans.

The Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach is also hoping that the pressure does not affect the Bafana Bafana players during the tournament.

He feels that the team may experience more pressure due to the 1996 African Cup of Nations glory, which was also the last time South Africa hosted the event.    

“I just hope and wish that the boys are not under pressure,” Khumalo continued.

“But that’s the nature of the game, because 1996 was the first time and this is the second, so the pressure will be there.

“It only takes a man to handle it. But if you can’t handle the heat in the kitchen I don’t think you should be selected.

“We can’t change the 1996 finale, so we must just go out and face the pressure because the pressure comes with the package.

“In 1996 we were in a tough situation but we went out there and we won the cup.”

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