Johannesburg - The South African Football Association is on a wild goose chase in protesting against the elimination of Bafana Bafana from next year's African Cup of Nations tournament, Kaizer Chiefs boss Kaizer Motaung said.
Former Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker also criticised Safa over the
team's elimination, after a goalless qualifying round draw against
Sierra Leone in Nelspruit on Saturday.
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."
SAFA should face the facts of its own bungling, Motaung said.
Barker was even more scathing in his comments. "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."
After an initial celebration on Saturday, the Bafana players and the
crowd at the Mbombela Stadium heard from the Confederation of African
Football (CAF) that it was Niger which had qualified from the group.
Locals believed South Africa had qualified for next year's Afcon
event on goal difference. The rules of the competition stipulate that if
teams finish level on points - Niger, South Africa and Sierra Leone all
finished with nine points - the nett results of games involving the
sides would be the deciding factor. This gave Niger six points and SA
and Sierra Leone five each.
Motaung said several competitions under the control of the Union of
European Football Associations followed a similar procedure to CAF.
Barker said that adding to the embarrassment was the fact that a Safa
technical team, including president Kirsten Nematandani and
vice-president Danny Jordaan, had been at Caf's meeting in Cairo two
weeks ago. The two also serve on the 2012 Afcon organising committee.
"The reality," said Barker, "was that Bafana had to win that final
game to qualify, even if Niger were beaten by Egypt - which, in fact,
was what happened - yet every last man at Safa and in the Bafana camp
believed a draw could be good enough."
Barker was also critical of goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who appeared
to feign injury in order to waste time towards the end of the game.