But not only that, they will also have to make tricky trips to Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone – their other opponents in Group 4 – who are not footballing powerhouses, but arduous places to travel to.
The draw took place at the International Convention Centre in Durban on Sunday night and was a glittering affair with a host of local and international dignitaries, including South African president Thabo Mbeki.
After drawing the Asian, North, Central American and Caribbean, and European qualifiers (click here for details of those qualification competitions), it was Africa’s turn.
South Africa were in the second pot of seeds after their slump in the Fifa World Rankings in recent years to 77 and therefore always faced a tough encounter with a top seed.
But to be drawn against arch-nemesis Nigeria, coached by German Berti Vogts, drew a mixture of gasps and laughter from the assembled crowd, though in truth this only puts South Africa’s 2010 African Nations Cup hopes at risk – they do of course qualify automatically for the World Cup.
The winners of each of the 12 groups advances to the second round of qualifying, where they will be joined by the eight best runners-up.
These 20 teams will then be drawn in five groups of four teams, with the winners advancing to the 2010 World Cup finals and the top three teams in each group qualifying for the 2010 African Nations Cup finals in Angola.
AFRICA QUALIFICATION GROUPS
Group 1 Cameroon Cape Verde Islands Tanzania Mauritius
Group 2 Guinea Zimbabwe Namibia Kenya
Group 3 Angola Benin Uganda Niger
Group 4 Nigeria South Africa Equatorial Guinea Sierra Leone
Group 5 Ghana Libya Gabon Lesotho
Group 6 Senegal Algeria Liberia Gambia
Group 7 Ivory Coast Mozambique Botswana Madagascar
Group 8 Morocco Ethiopia Rwanda Mauritania
Group 9 Tunisia Burkina Faso Burundi Seychelles
Group 10 Mali Congo Sudan Chad
Group 11 Togo Zambia Eritrea Swaziland
Group 12 Egypt DR Congo Malawi Djibouti