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Date: 25 March 2019

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SAFA's AFCON rules ignorance inexcusable: veterans

[Posted 10 Oct 2011]
[By Beezsports Editor]
SAFA"s AFCON rules ignorance inexcusable: veterans

Veteran football coaches and administrators in South Africa have castigated the mother governing body in the country, the South African Football Assocciation for their embarrassing ignorance of the qualification criteria put in place by CAF long before the commencement of the Africa Cup of Nations competition.

SAFA are apparently unhappy with CAF's Regulations for the AFCON 2012 qualifiers which saw Bafana Bafana missing out on qualification for the finals after completing their Group G matches tied on 9 points with Sierra Leonne and Niger.

The South African soccer mother body has even appealed to CAF against its rules which it argues are not in line with common practice in the world of football and therefore prejudicial to Bafana Bafana. SAFA's concern is only coming at the end of the campaign.

While SAFA might have a point with respect to the reasonableness of the criterion used by CAF, their ignorance of the rules applicable to a competition which started exactly a year ago is buffling and embarassing to the entire nation to say the least.

Is SAFA right in challenging the rules applied by CAF to break the ties among nations who finish with the same number of points?

Well, CAF advertised the regulations for this competition before all the 44 participating CAF affiliating nations took part in the group stages of the AFCON 2012.

Article 14 of the Regulations states that in case of equality of points, the following tie breakers shall be applied in the order that follows:

  • Number of points obtained in games between the teams concerned;

  • Goal difference in games only involving the teams concerned;

  • Greater number of goals scored only in games among the tied-up teams;

  • Away goals scored in games among the teams involved only;

  • Goal difference in all games;

  • Goals scored in all games and lastly,

  • Drawing of lots.

According to the above order, the number of points scored in a mini-league of matches involving South Africa, Sierra Leonne and Niger were considered first, and Egypt, the bottom team was excluded from the equation.

According to the permutations above, Niger emerged with six points, having beaten South Africa and Sierra Leonne in matches played at home while losing once to South Africa, while South Africa are on five after winning against Niger at home, drawing against Sierra Leonne away and sadly at home last Saturday. This followed a loss in Niamey to Niger in September.

Sierra Leone on the other hand, won against Niger at home, drew against Egypt and South Africa on a home and away basis to finish with five points.

Based on the above construction, Niger tops the mini-league based on the tie-breaking criteria applied by CAF. On rules of fairness alone, one can argue that the rules applied fairly to all participating teams in the group and in the entire competition.

South Africa will battle to argue a case of unfairness based on the mere fact that the rules are complicated. The question is, did the rules favour one nation against the other before and during the competition. 

It is difficult if not impossible, to argue that Bafana were prejudiced and another team, namely Niger was placed at an unfair advantage even before the commencement of the competition. After all, South Africa had the final match of the group at home, as opposed to a situation were Bafana's three opponents played away.

The truth of the matter is that SAFA, the entire technical team, and sadly even the SABC journalists and other journos were clearly ignorant of the applicable rules, and fuelled the ignorance of the nation by declaring to the nation that Bafana had qualified for the finals.

It was sad to see Bafana players dancing in jubilation, celebrating the moment of glory that never was, as they laboured under a dreadfully misguided belief that they had made the AFCON finals cut. 

A big football association like SAFA has no excuse for their laxity in gaining knowledge of applicable rules of the competition before participating in the same competition.

To try and woodwink the nation into believing that the association has a case of unfair or unjust treatment against CAF when the truth is that SAFA failed to read and understand the governing rules is not only misleading, but irresponsibly toying with fans' emotions.

In all fairness to South African football administrators, it will be totally wrong to label all local football chiefs as being ignorant. There are intelligent soccer administrators, and clear voices of reason in South African football who do not see reason in SAFA taking CAF on.

Kaizer Chiefs Chairman Kaizer Motaung and Cliver Barker are such sobering voices of reason in the country who have advised Safa to stop their exercise in futility.

Motaung said: "I'm afraid Safa are way off the mark in stating that the deciding factor in such cases must be goal difference.

"Safa are entitled to make their own rules for their own events and those presently tabulated have been in force for a number of years. Safa should have been aware of this."

Barker launched the early scathing missiles directed at the erring association.

"The rules employed for the African Nations Cup are entrenched and Safa and the Bafana technical staff should have been aware of them before the deciding game against Sierra Leone," he said.

"It is mind-boggling that no one at Safa or in the Bafana set-up was familiar with the facts."

Motaung and Barker are well-respected football voices not only in South Africa but on the entire continent. Hence the need to have an advisory technical panel such as the one established by SAFA in 1996 to guide Barker to SA's only Afcon title thus far.

Maybe with such a technical panel in place, SAFA will avoid the bungling which saw Pitso Mosimane adopt a defensive approach when news filtered in that Egypt were leading Niger 2-0 shortly after the second half.

The Bafana coach made changes meant to stifle the threat posed by the plucky Sierra Leone outfit, withdrawing Bernard Parker and throwing in a defesnive midfielder Reinelwe Letsholonyane, and then bringing on another central midfielder Oupa Manyisa to further consolidate the midfield.

With better understanding of the rules, Pitso would have gone for an offensive approach, and there was nothing stopping Bafana from scoring a goal that could have taken them to the promised land of Afcon qualification. 


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