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21.06.2005 Football News

SAFA unaware of FIFA ruling of Head to Head

Raymond Yeboah([email protected])

The South African Football Association (Safa) and Bafana Bafana were unaware of a ruling made as far back as 2003 by Fifa that if two teams finish level on points at the top of a World Cup qualifying group the issue at hand is initially decided by the head-to-head results.

The misconception seemingly long existed in South Africa that goal-difference was the deciding factor in such circumstances and even after Saturday's far-reaching setback, Safa and Bafana hierarchy were unable to confirm the fateful head-to-head proviso.

With 3-0 and 2-0 victories over Bafana, while perched on the same 15-point mark at the top of the African Group Two qualifying segment, Ghana's Black Stars need only win their remaining two games against Uganda (home) and the Cape Verde Islands (away) to book their tickets for next year's World Cup Finals in Germany. Deshi Baktawer, a top SABC sport analyst, says this oversight reflects a widespread complacency in the country, not only frm Safa, Bafana and the 2010 World Cup Organising Committee in particular, over the possibilities that existed of not qualifying for the tournament in Germany - and making a do-or-die effort to prevent it.

Payback time

Baktawer says all the talk last week was of payback time for the 3-0 loss suffered in Kumasi. The idea that Bafana might actually lose the game against the Black Stars was not as much as contemplated - even with six frontline players unavailable for one reason or another.

Ghana, in any case, have a comprehensive goal-difference advantage over Bafana," he added, "amounting to seven goals at the moment and there is little chance of South Africa negating this difference in the remaining two games against Burkina Faso (away) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (home) - leaving the only way of salvaging a place in next year's World through winning both remaining matches and hoping the Black Stars drop at least a point.

Stuart Baxter, the Bafana coach says our fate is no longer in our own hands after Saturday's debacle - and with it the dire prospect of missing out on a minimum pay-out of approximately R40 million awarded to all the 32 World Cup qualifiers, with even more serious implications in relation to hosting the 2010 World Cup.

Danny Jordaan, the World Cup Organising CEO, has been quick to point out correctly that a failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup would not result in South Africa's hosting right for 2010 being in jeopardy. "Neither France in 1994 or South Korea in 1998 qualified for the World Cup, yet four years later hosted successful ventures.