Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- The South African Football Association apologized that its national soccer team failed to qualify for next year’s African Cup of Nations, after playing its deciding match for a draw.
South Africa’s Bafana Bafana celebrated their qualification, after believing their goalless draw against Sierra Leone on Oct. 1 would guarantee them a berth at the continental championship in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. They later discovered the rules favored head-to-head records over goal difference in the event of a deadlock, securing Niger’s qualification instead of them.
“Events in Nelspruit, in which Bafana players celebrated, thinking they had qualified for the finals, have left the entire nation devastated and in mourning,” SAFA President Kirsten Nematandani said in a statement on the Johannesburg-based body’s website yesterday. “The failure by members of our technical team to acquaint themselves with some of the Confederation of African Football rules is unacceptable.”
The mistake was a “glaring error”, he said.
South Africa has failed to qualify for the tournament the last two times, despite being the eighth best team on the continent, according to rankings by FIFA, the world governing body for the sport. The team also last year became the first World Cup host not to progress beyond the group stages.
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