ZIMBABWE will face Angola in the final round of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, according to a draw conducted in South Africa Thursday.
Caretaker coach Rahman Gumbo attended the draw in Johannesburg and he would have been quietly satisfied with the draw.
Zimbabwe, ranked 26th in Africa, will play host to the Angolans who are 21st on the continent in the first leg, before travelling to Luanda for the return leg. The matches are to be played in September.
Libya were originally due to stage the next Cup of Nations in 2014, but a rebellion that toppled the regime of Muammar Gaddafi also reduced some infrastructure to rubble, so 2017 hosts South Africa exchanged dates.
Held in even-number years since Ethiopia staged the 1968 finals, the Cup of Nations switches to uneven-number years from 2013 to avoid every second tournament being staged in the same year as a World Cup.
The change means the Nations Cup finals will be held in two consecutive years after February’s games Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Zimbabwe went into the hat along with 29 other countries in the final race to choose the 15 countries who will join host nation South Africa in the finals.
The 30 teams were divided into two pots ahead of the draw. Pot A contained all the seeded teams based on their performances at the last three AFCON editions. This included Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Sudan, Tunisia and Zambia.
Zimbabwe were in Pot B along with Botswana, Cape Verde Islands, Central Africa Republic, Ethiopia, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, DR Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Uganda.
The highlight of the draw was when continental giants Ivory Coast were drawn to play Senegal.
Record seven-time champions Egypt were shock absentees after they were ousted by the Wild Beasts from the Central African Republic last week.
Egypt forced a 1-1 draw in Bangui, but the damage had been done in Alexandria two weeks before when they lost 3-2 against opponents who played more than half the game a man short after midfielder Salif Keita was red carded.
AFCON final qualifying round draw
Mali v Botswana; Guinea v Niger; Zimbabwe v Angola; Sudan v Ethiopia; Ghana v Malawi; Libya v Algeria; Liberia v Nigeria; Cote d'Ivoire v Senegal; Zambia v Uganda; DR Congo v Equatorial G.; Cape Verde v Cameroon; Gabon v Togo; Mozambique v Morocco; Central Africa v Burkina Faso; Sierra Leone v Tunisia