SAFA 'on wild goose chase'
Johannesburg - SAFA is on a wild goose chase in protesting against the elimination of Bafana Bafana from next year's African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament, Kaizer Chiefs supremo Kaizer Motaung said on Monday.
Former Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker also criticised the SA Football Association (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."
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 South Africa and Sierra Leone five each.
Motaung said several competitions under the control of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) followed a similar procedure to CAF.
The Spanish League championship, for example, also placed head-to-head results ahead of goal difference in settling issues.
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.
This had been an ideal occasion to familiarise themselves with the Nation Cup rules, and where Bafana stood before the fateful Sierra Leone clash.
"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 the ham-acting of Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who appeared to feign injury in order to misguidedly waste time towards the end of the game against Sierra Leone.
"A delighted Khune then went on to wave to the crowd for an exhibition that could have put him in line for a Hollywood Oscar, but which, fate would have it, cost Bafana valuable time during which they could have pursued scoring the all-important winning goal," said Barker.
He did not blame Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane for the debacle.
"It was the responsibility of SAFA officials and the Bafana technical staff and assistants to inform the coach of the rules," he said.