Many South Africans were pleased to hear that FIFA decided to deduct three points from Ethiopia for fielding a player (Minyahile Beyene) who had been suspended after receiving two yellow cards during the World Cup qualifiers. Beyene was not eligible to be on the field when Ethiopia played against Botswana on the 8th of June this year. In that match, Ethiopia beat Botswana 2 -1.
Ethiopia, who are still at position 1 in Group A with 10 points, had 13 points before being stripped of three points. Bafana Bafana, who are at position 2 with 8 points, were 5 points behind them. With 13 points, Ethiopia had already qualified to go through to the 3rd and last round of the qualifiers. Now that they are only 2 points ahead of Bafana, there is hope that Bafana might still progress to the next stage. However, with only one match to go, the chances of that happening are slim.
On the 6th of September Ethiopia and Bafana will play against Central African Republic (CAF) and Botswana respectively. CAF is the worst performing team in group A. After 5 games, they have won only one. Therefore, it is highly unlikely for them to beat Ethiopia. The deduction of 3 points from Ethiopia might not help Bafana that much. However, the fact that it is still mathematically possible for them to reach the third round brings back hope to South Africans.
Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said he was very pleased with FIFA’s decision. This “gives us a second bite on the cherry. We now have to beat Botswana and hope Ethiopia loses or draws against Central African Republic. I am very pleased with the outcome,” he said.