Johannesburg - South Africa face the prospect of an uneasy Soccer World Cup lottery in a bid to qualify for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
This was revealed on Friday by Confederation of African Football (CAF) media director Habuba Suleiman when he disclosed that the 10 teams emerging from earlier qualifying stages for the five places designated to Africa would be paired in a draw.
This means that Bafana Bafana could come against one of the continent's heavyweights like Ivory Coast, Ghana, Egypt or Nigeria in a home-and-away playoff if South Africa negotiate the earlier qualifying stages.
"This is not good news," said SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani.
"We had hoped to cement a place as one of the top five countries in Africa and thereby avoid the other top teams in a seeded system.
"An open draw will leave everything to chance and we could only hope for the best in the circumstances."
After receiving a first-round bye in the quest for a place in Brazil in 2014, Bafana will face the fast-improving Botswana, Central African Republic and either Ethiopia or Somalia in a round robin second round which will decide the last 10 qualifiers.
South Africa are the top-ranked team in the group and are, therefore, favoured to progress to the last 10.
But with Ivory Coast, Ghana, Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Tunisia, Burkina Faso and Algeria the other sectional favourites, anything is possible after this.