Friends in high places: Fifa President Sepp Blatter (r)
and South African President Thabo Mbeki embrace
[GALLO/GETTY]

South Africa already qualified for the World Cup as host, but since the World Cup draw also doubled as African Cup qualifier, South Africans were given the drama and excitement of a qualifying draw.

The Bafana Bafana were drawn with the Super Eagles from Nigeria in Group 4, and will also face Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone.

In another tough matchup, Senegal and Algeria were drawn in the same Group 6, with Liberia and Gambia.

Qualifiers will advance into a system of five group of four teams.

Each winner of such a group will qualify for the World Cup along with host South Africa.

No African nation has ever gone beyond the quarterfinal stage of the World Cup but hopes are home advantage will change that in 2010.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter said Africa deserved to host its first finals.

"This is justice to a continent that has given so much to football," he said.

"We wanted to give something back to Africa".

African qualifying groups

Winners and top eight second-place teams advance; South Africa has automatic berth and participates only for 2010 African Cup of Nations qualifying:

Group 1: Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Mauritius, Tanzania

Group 2: Guinea, Kenya, Namibia, Zimbabwe

Group 3: Angola, Benin, Niger, Uganda

Group 4: Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa

Group 5: Gabon, Ghana, Lesotho, Libya

Group 6: Algeria, Gambia, Liberia, Senegal

Group 7: Botswana, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mozambique

Group 8: Ethiopia, Mauritania, Morocco, Rwanda

Group 9: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Seychelles, Tunisia

Group 10: Chad, Mali, Republic of Congo, Sudan

Group 11: Eritrea, Swaziland, Togo, Zambia

Group 12: Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Malawi

Source: Agencies