On the weekend the South African Football Association (SAFA) has lodged an appeal with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) regarding the outcome of qualification for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which is to be held in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
South Africa finished top of Group G on goal difference, followed by in second place Sierra Leone and third placed Niger – all tied on nine points. Egypt was in fourth place four points adrift.
According to CAF rules, South Africa will miss out while Niger will proceed to the finals next year.
CAF invoked rule 14.1 which states that in ‘case of equality of points between two or more teams, after all the group matches, a greater number of points obtained in the matches between the concerned teams will determine the group winner.’
In a Statement SAFA said that they ‘would also like to point out that the Bafana technical team were well aware of rule 14.1 ahead of Saturday’s clash with Sierra Leone but their interpretation of the rule differed with that of CAF. They interpreted “between” to mean between South Africa and each of the teams tied on points with them. Based on that, it was the technical team’s thinking that Bafana Bafana only needed a draw to qualify; hence they played for a draw in the closing stages of the match.’
It reminds one of their cricketers in 2003 who misunderstood the rules and were eliminated. In this case, and in football one would think the team that finishes top on goal difference should be the team that progresses to the finals.
South Africa’s goal difference was plus two, Sierra Leone’s nil and Niger’s minus two.