I am no soccer fan nor do I follow any other sport for that matter. I lost interest in sport more than 15 years ago after I realised that despite all of my family members being members of Kaizer Chiefs – soccer was just not my thing. Put differently, “I am just not that into sports”. During the few years that I followed and played soccer (mainly with neighbours) because I grew up in the soccer fanatic family I learned, at least, that sport was nothing but about scoring goals, and goals equaled to winning.
And as you may know (well if you didn’t, now you do) I hardly talk, discuss let alone write about soccer or any sport for that matter but the fact that our soccer club, Bafana Bafana, had failed to qualify to the African Cup of Nations tournament really got my attention. In fact it was people’s reaction to the game that got me worried and a bit curious. This after the team failed to score goals when it played against Sierra Leona on Saturday, 8 October 2011, South Africa.
As many soccer analysts, followers, fans and even administrators believed that Bafana Bafana topped the Group G with one point difference – an advantage qualifying the team to next year’s tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea – it came as a great shock when the country learned after the match that the team did not qualify, according to Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane told City Press newspaper on Sunday [October 9, 2011] that he did not know “if we are coming or going and at the moment we have mixed feelings”. Mosimane was quoted at a media briefing after the match and announcement by CAF saying: “I need someone to resolve this jigsaw puzzle but it will be a sad story if we didn’t qualify because we deserve to be in the finals”. He was also quoted by Kick-Off web site saying that “I’m confused. It is mixed feelings… IfSouth Africadid not qualify then it is a sad story”. Well, chief, there’s no confusion about this.
Despite reports that the method used to make sure that Nigeria qualified through to the next round had long existed, which disqualified Bafana Bafana, and the fact that Mosimane conceded that the team did not play well – surely this is reason enough to have disqualified our team irrespective of whether or not the same “method” had been sued before. And I know soccer fanatics celebrated Bafana Bafana’s loss, or lack thereof, against Sierra Leona as they believed this was a straight-and-forward qualification through to the next round of the tournament. But the celebration lasted only for a few minutes, didn’t it?
The announcement of this now resurfaced criteria used against Bafana Bafana should not have caught any of you by surprise because I would expect you to know by now how these football bosses like running this sport like their Spaza shops, e.g. how FIFA dictates everywhere it goes. Another example is CAF’s decision to give the Afcon matches rights toFrancecompany, SportsFive, instead on giving them to one of the African companies.
South African Football Association has since lodged an appeal with CAF over Bafana Bafana’s disqualification, saying the team had finished “on top of the group in terms of goal difference, which is the universally recognised means of separating teams and who are equal on points”. SAFA said although it acknowledged that CAF used rule 14.1 in disqualifying South Africa, it however, believed this was unfair because “the team finishing top of the log at the end of the competition is automatically determined at the end of t90 minutes play, and that the second place is determined by the other rules”.
After seeking legal opinion on the matter, SAFA intended to “lay out [its] objection more fully shortly, but that in the meantime wish to signal that we intend to challenge this interpretation and application of this rule”. SAFA President Kirsten Nematandani reportedly addressed the national team “not [to] despair [and that] all is not lost”. Nematandani said if CAF’s rules were “ambiguous then we need to challenge that and we are well within our right to do so”. “In meantime be positive, and leave everything in our hands”.
Our team has failed to score goals because they relied on other teams’ loss which would have given them a great advantage into qualifying to the next round of the tournament and when we were told that we did not qualify we seemed shocked and surprised. We should not be surprised because had we scored goals ourselves – which winning is all about – Bafana Bafana would have had a greater advantage. Period!
I know truth hurts, but someone had to say that.