The third edition of the African Nations Championship (Chan) tournament gets underway on Saturday when Bafana Bafana take on Mozambique in the opening match at the Cape Town Stadium.
Devised by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) in September 2007, Chan is a tournament reserved exclusively for players who are active in the local leagues of the country of their birth.
Players who play abroad or elsewhere on the African continent therefore are not qualified to take part in the competition.
The inaugural Chan tournament, held in 2009, was hosted by the Ivory Coast, with the Democratic Republic of Congo winning the competition.
After expanding the tournament from eight to 16 teams for the second edition, held in Sudan in 2011, Tunisia walked away the winners, in the wake of the Tunisian Revolution, which led to the ousting of long-time president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January of that year
Three years on, and South Africa will be hosting the event, which was originally supposed to be held in Libya. The tournament was moved as a result of political unrest in the northern African nation.
Bafana will be competing in their second Chan tournament, having reached the quarterfinal stage in 2011, losing out to Algeria in Khartoum.
Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Polokwane were announced as the host cities for the event, with the 65 000-seater Cape Town Stadium set to welcome the two finalists on February 1.
South Africa were drawn to face Mozambique in the opening match, with Nigeria and Mali completing a tough Group A
Group B consists of Zimbabwe, Uganda, Burkina Faso and Morocco and will also be based in Cape Town with most of their matches being played at the Athlone Stadium.
Based in Bloemfontein, Group C comprises Ghana, Libya, Ethiopia and Congo, while Group D, in Polokwane, will be contested by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Burundi and Mauritania.
The knockout stages begin in Cape Town on January 25, with the top two teams of each group progressing to the quarterfinals.
The tournament is held every two years, alternating with the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and will next take place in Rwanda in 2016.
In addition to hosting the tournament, South Africa will also be the venue for the draw for the 2015 Afcon qualifying rounds on January 31.
South Africa’s fixtures (all matches at the Cape Town Stadium):
Saturday: South Africa v Mozambique (6pm)
January 15: South Africa v Mali (5pm)
January 19: South Africa v Nigeria (7pm)