Qualifying for AFCON Rule 14.1

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A couple of weeks ago, the African nations were celebrating qualification to the AFCON 2012, the premier continental tournament to take place in the early days of February next year. Quite interesting was the non qualification of Egypt. This was for two simple reasons. The Egyptians had made this Cup a personal property having won it thrice in succession and a record six times, hence were expected to stroll through to the finals without much ado.

The other point to ponder was whether it had been monotonously boring that they did not give it a go at all. For technical reasons, the fact that Ali Shihata and his senior guard had been in that position too long to build contempt on the AFCON is valid.

Despite that fact, the point that the Pharoahs have that record in the Cup makes not much difference in their status as the team to beat.

Shihata has been since replaced by former USA coach, Bob Bradley who injected young blood into the Pharoahs. In their group, they faced South Africa‘s Bafana Bafana, Sierra Leone and Niger in the famous Group G. You will remember how Bafana topped the Group but did not qualify because they were equal on points with the other two teams, but then, Niger played better against Bafana.

This disregarded all the strength and prowess Bafana showed in the group and focussed only on the three teams as if the Mighty Pharoahs of Egypt do not exist. The impression given here is that Egypt are minnows and playing against them is a non-event. Let me take you back to the article in these pages about the rules of CAF concerning the qualification criterion.

14.1 Greater number of points obtained in the matches between the concerned teams;
14.2. Best goal difference in the matches between the concerned teams;

14.3. Greater number of goals scored in the group matches between the concerned teams;

14.4. Greater number of away goals scored in the direct matches between the concerned teams;

14.4. Greater number of away goals scored in the direct matches between the concerned teams;

14.5. Goal difference in all the group matches;

14.6. Greatest number of goals scored in all the group matches;

14.7. A drawing of lots by the Organising Committee of CAF.

Applying rule 14.1 CAF considered only results of matches between Niger, South Africa and Sierra Leone and discounted Egypt as the bottom team with 5 points. In that regard, Niger found themselves with 6 points, South Africa and Sierra Leone on 5 points each. Here, the problem is not the rule, or that South Africa should have played to win instead of monkeying around.

The issue is the order of things. Rule 14.1 should be down the line at 14.6, just above 14.7, drawing of lots. It is when all Group phase issues involving all participating teams have failed to separate teams in all statistical spheres, not just some teams. Disregarding other teams as the first step is sick and ridiculous. It was not going to be an issue to start with, had Bafana qualified and many would not be aware of the order of rules.

While each competition has rules governing its running, it must be limited to the organisational and logistical issues and not tactical aspects. That area should remain as universal as much as saying the team that scores most goals in any match wins it. Tempering with that becomes unfootball.

Let us not forget who CAF is and where they come from. CAF was the brainchild of North and Western Africa with the East bit coming in later. How many Southern African states have hosted or won the tournament? How many Southerners have won the African Player of the Year? How many times have countries south of the Sahara cried foul from bad officiating and getting raw deals in qualification to AFCON and FIFA World Cups?

You may be asking what has that to do with this. Everything. The rules have always been created to favour the North and West. That is why CAF were watching this one under the microscope. Any team that plays against the CAF favourite has more than 11 players against them. The conspiracy starts with the draws and goes all the way to the 90th minute – actually, injury time. Look back at all clubs from Southern Africa that have gone and suffered injustice against countries like Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Senegal and all Franco-Africans.

Orlando Pirates winning the Africa Champions League in 1995 and South Africa hosting and eventual victory in AFCON ’96 were huge blunders for CAF and all efforts are in place never to let that happen again. There shall not be CAF President from south of the equator and that is no error. It is by design. Issa Hayatou has been there and will be there until he expires. If he goes, he will have a successor ready just next door and the dynasty will, of course, be perpetual. CAF carries a lot of nations along wherever they go and that is why Africa ever fails in the FIFA World Cups.

The qualifications seldom reflect the actual state of affairs. Only on few occasions have these CAF elects maintained the status quo at the big stage but all the juicy details and junk in the trunk of CAF are a topic for another day.

Whatever happened to Bafana is water under the bridge, but my question resulting from my further lack of understanding of the game, is how South Africa are not going to AFCON 2012 at all. This is because of the accommodation of the best runners-up. Libya and Sudan won their right to go on this ticket, but they were not so close to the winners of their group as Bafana were in Group G. What, then, is the best


13 comments on “Qualifying for AFCON Rule 14.1

  1. Ndex I was so shocked when the commentators on TV kept saying SA had qualified when me and my friends kept saing SA had not qualified. Some of our SA friends were even angry with us when we tried to tell them the team was not qualifying when the goalkeeper was wasting time. I looked so stupid when everyone danced after the match BUT I was so convinced they had not qualified.

    The rule is simple. Niger got 6 points from SA and SL by beating both of them at home. SA got 5 points from Niger and SL a win against SL and a draw and another draw with Niger. So did SL then Niger qualified. The Niger Egypt game would not have made a difference even if Egypt had won 10 – 0.

    • I understand the Rule only as far as the wording. The logic beats me. Egypt, being part of the group must ever remain part of the equation.

  2. This was a simple rule Ndex, I really didnt understand how “everyone” got it wrong. On the day some of my South African friends almost killed me when I kept telling them that SA would not qualify with a draw. I looked so stupid at the end of the match when 40 million people were dancing and there I was confused yet knowing I was right.

    Its so simple the three teams tied on points had to be weighed against each other. Niger beat both SL and SA and got 6 points off them. SA beat Niger and drew with SL twice and got 5 points. SL also beat Niger and drew twice with SA and got 5 points and so Niger went through. All the three teams knew it going into the last game that they needed to win and that was it. Niger’s maths was the easier one as they had hope of SA and SL playing a draw.

    • You could not have put it in better words. That is what beats me up. Logs and tables mean the best team is on top. If such technicalities makes the next team on the log a better one, then the top team should inseparably be second best. This is true lookng at this Group and when comparing Libya and Sudan who did not even threaten the leadership of top teams in their respective groups. I need a refresher coaching course, surely and soon! Thank you Vusman.

  3. Guys this was a QUALIFIER not a CHAMPIONSHIP thats where the line is drawn. The best possible team in the group is the one that must go and represent the group. In this case the three teams were tied on points which is the first determination. Then we look at who of the three is the better of them AMONGST THE THREE of them. In this case Niger managed to get six points from the other 2 and the others got 5 which meant Niger was the best of the three. Its like boxing for you to have me as an opponent first go and beat the guy that I beat then we will know you can compete. you cannot go and fight someone higher that me when you are failing to beat me. PROVE YOURSELF ON A ONE V ONE CASE WITH ME. Its even good to get rid of match fixing because the result of other teams will not have an effect on us.

    • To say if Egypt played well, their results would count and now that they played badly their results don’t is a little tricky for me to swallow I think, but that sounds very factual Maduma, but then, it must just be a knock-out qualifier without groups. To say one boxer was battered badly (because he did not prepare well) makes his opponent not good enough is poor arrangement on the part of the organiser, if indeed that is true. Depending on the point of view, I think consensus will be difficult to reach. What then, about the 2nd best placed in the other ‘non-Groups’?

      Is that also the case in the Group stage of the actual tournament or it’s just for qualifying and why doesn’t UEFA use it anyway?

  4. UEFA are using it Ndex check the rules for the last two EURO Qualifiers. The important thing is to understand that the rule applies only when all games have been played and two or more teams are tied on points. Its used to determine who is the better of the tied teams in terms of actaul performance against each other. ONLY IF THE TEAMS ARE TIED ON POINTS.

    • For UEFA, it is not the first criteria as it is for CAF. They consider points and goal difference. After failing to separate teams this way, it comes in before casting of lots. And this is what I am saying. If Bfana were playing under Uefa rules, they would have qualified – by winning their Group. This is what I get from Euro; As in Euro 2008 qualifying:
      If two or more teams are equal on points on completion of the group matches, the following criteria are applied to determine the rankings.
      1.Higher number of points obtained in the group matches played among the teams in question
      2.Superior goal difference from the group matches played among the teams in question
      3.Higher number of goals scored in the group matches played among the teams in question
      4.Higher number of goals scored away from home in the group matches played among the teams in question
      5.If, after applying criteria 1) to 4) to several teams, two or more teams still have an equal ranking, the criteria 1) to 4) will be reapplied to determine the ranking of these teams. If this procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria 6) and 7) will apply
      6.Results of all group matches:
      1.Superior goal difference
      2.Higher number of goals scored
      3.Higher number of goals scored away from home
      4.Fair play conduct

      7.Drawing of lots

  5. There was a year when Zimbabwe was pipped by Cameroun when one of the East African nations withdrew (either Rwanda or Somalia) and Cameroun had lost to that team. For many years I have always felt that there is something going on. Many times we have lost at the last match which always happens to be played away in North African, is too much of coincidence. May be FIFA should break Africa into half and have the northern cheats by themselves.

    • Thanks Emson for those examples and they are so many more. Even the one-time popular ‘Lyon’ match that Zimbabwe drew 0-0 with Egypt after CAF gave in to pressure to order a replay for the match the Pharoahs won 2-1 amid the bloody crowd and player trouble. Efforts were made to make sure that Cameroon, being the Warriors last hurdlein the following USA 1994 ualifier, would go through. Reinhard Fabisch was so incensed at the Younde encounter which Zimbabwe lost 3-1, tearing money at the officials as a protest and getsure for bribery. Today CAF can claim to combat bribery. How ironic.

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