African countries will have to play their first four qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup finals on successive weekends, according to a Fifa confirmation.
The first group phase of the qualifiers begins at the end of May and concludes in September.
Rwanda plays her first qualifier against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on the weekend of May 31st.
The four weekends of June will be used for the first four rounds of group matches, presenting a potential logistical headache for teams having to criss-cross the continent.
“We have written to Fifa seeking clarification of this,” said South African Football Association chief executive officer Raymond Hack. “It seems a little tough on the players.”
Poor flight connections, which often turn traveling to international matches into multi-day and multi-stop expeditions, are likely to cause consternation among coaches.
African sides often find it easier have to travel via Europe. South Africa are the first host nation to participate in the World Cup preliminaries since Italy in 1934.
Although they automatically qualify for the 2010 World Cup, the preliminaries are also being used to determine the 16 teams for the African Nations Cup finals in Angola in 2010.
The 48 African countries left in the race for place at the World Cup are divided into 12 groups. The winners and eight best placed runners-up go through to the second league phase after October.
The final 20 teams will be divided into five groups from which the winners qualify for the World Cup. The top three in each group join host Angola in the Nations Cup field.
Talking to Times Sport during the concluded Cecafa championship, Amavubi Stars head coach Josip Kuze said that he was confident that the 2010 Africa and World Cup campaign will be positive.
“(After this Cecafa ), I know the ability of each one of my players, besides I have five months to work with them one-on-one so as to improve their individual skills.
“Of course, we would need to add to this squad more players who never made it to Cecafa.
“Given all the necessities we need to make this squad better and stronger, I’m quite certain we (Rwanda) has a chance of qualifying at least for the African Nations’ Cup,” the soft spoken Kuze said.
However, the former Dynamo Zagreb coach noted that another possibility of ensuring that Rwanda reaches the 2010 CAN finals in Angola would by winning all the home fixtures. Rwanda lost to Sudan in this year’s Cecafa final to bag $20,000. Sudan won their second Cecafa Cup title after defeating Rwanda 4-2 on penalty shoot-out after the ninety minutes plus extra time ended when the two teams tied at 2-2.
Rwanda has been drawn against North African giants Morocco along with Ethiopia and Mauritania in Group Eight for the CAN/Fifa 2010 World Cup qualifiers whose finals will be held in Angola and South Africa respectively.
The Amavubi Stars’ appearance at the 2004 Nations Cup finals in Tunisia remains the biggest achievement so far the country’s football history.
The 32 World Cup finals’ slots were divided into 13 for Europe, six for Africa (including the host nation- South Africa), four each for Asia and South America and three for Concacaf.
The winners of the Oceania group play off against the fifth-placed Asian side for a further spot while the fifth-placed finishers in South America play off for a berth against the fourth-placed team from the central and North American and Caribbean Zone.