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South Africa to Qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations


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South Africa go out of Africa Cup of Nations after coach's blunder

A hideous miscalculation of competition rules by their coach has deprived South Africa of a place in the Africa Cup of Nations finals after they played for a draw in a match they ended up needing to win.

The South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane admitted he had changed tactics and played for a point in Saturday's final qualifier at home to Sierra Leone, thinking it was sufficient to win his team's qualifying group and seal a place in the 2012 finals.

But South Africa actually needed a win to avoid being eliminated on head-to-head results between the three teams tied at the top of the table, and no one appeared to have studied the regulations correctly. So despite playing out the draw, they were pipped by outsiders Niger, who qualified for the first time.

More embarrassingly, the Bafana Bafana celebrated their supposed qualification at the end of the scoreless stalemate in Nelspruit, thinking they had done enough to advance to next year's finals, which will be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.


"It's very sad for South Africa because the country deserves to be in next year's Nations Cup. I feel like I have failed," Mosimane said.

The coach, who took over after the World Cup, was under the impression that goal difference was the determining factor to decide the group winners and when he was told that leaders Niger were losing in Egypt, he changed tactics and settled for a draw.

Niger had led South Africa by a point going into the final round of qualifiers on Saturday.

"Do you think I would have left [the striker Lehlohonolo] Majoro on the bench and put on a midfielder if I knew that we needed a goal? It doesn't make sense," Mosimane said, before criticising the regulations.

"Africa is a jungle, my friend," Mosimane added. "The European and South American formats are so much better because everything is running smoothly, but it's very difficult to play in Africa."

Mosimane was not the only one to fall foul of a misreading of the rules. The state-run African Broadcasting Corporation proclaimed qualification and the South African Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani went on television to congratulate the team. He and Mosimane are now likely to face calls to resign.


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