Ghana, Sudan cry foul over Bafana's 2 home games

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South African coach Molefi Ntseki speaks to players during the International Friendly match between South Africa and Zambia at Royal Bafokeng Stadium (Gallo Images)
South African coach Molefi Ntseki speaks to players during the International Friendly match between South Africa and Zambia at Royal Bafokeng Stadium (Gallo Images)
  • Ghana and Sudan are upset that Bafana Bafana's two AFCON qualifying matches against Sao Tome and Principe were played in South Africa.
  • Bafana claimed 2-0 and 4-2 victories in Durban and Port Elizabeth respectively and look likely to qualify from Group C.
  • SAFA, however, insists the decision to give SA two home games was prompted by the grim coronavirus pandemic.

Ghana and Sudan are crying foul over the playing of both 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games between Bafana Bafana and Sao Tome and Principe in South Africa while suggesting it eliminates the overall fairness of Group C.

What the questionable arrangement means is that Bafana will effectively have four home games and two away matches in Group C, with Ghana and Sudan balanced with three home matches and three away and the lowly, 182nd world-ranked Sao Tome and Principe ending up with only two appearances in their own country to add to their troubles.

Bafana accordingly beat Sao Tome 2-0 in what was a closely-contested encounter at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium on Friday night and the rearranged second fixture between the two countries at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Monday afternoon ending in another closely contested 4-2 win via two late goals for the quasi away combination.

What adds to the suspicions of an arrangement that is hardly fair in appearance is that the South African Football Association (SAFA) is bearing the travel and accommodation expenses of Sao Tome and Principe.

And increasing the ire of Sudan, in particular, is that while the lowly Sao Tome and Principe are now effectively out of the running for a place in the AFCON Finals in Cameroon after four qualifying defeats, the relatively close nature of the two games in South Africa suggests Bafana would have found themselves with a battle on their hands in an away game on unfamiliar territory.

Instead, the South Africans are now well-positioned to qualify for the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations and would seem to need only a single point from the two remaining qualifying games in March against Ghana (home) and Sudan (away) to seal the issue after gleaning the six points against Sao Tome and Principe.

Sudan, in contrast to the laboured Bafana, beat Sao Tome 4-0 at home and insist the controversial switch in countries of the South Africa-Sao Tome encounter could turn out to be a deciding factor.

SAFA, however, insists the switch was prompted by the grim coronavirus pandemic and not to improve Bafana's qualifying prospects - and is something which CAF has seemingly sanctioned by allowing the arrangement to take place.

It should be noted, however, that when Algeria suggested to Zimbabwe that a similar change in venue be implemented, with both games between the countries taking place in Algeria, the Zimbabweans, unlike Sao Tome and Principe, summarily turned down the proposal.

And in order to avoid any suspicions, it would surely have been more appropriate to have played the second Bafana-Sao Tome encounter on neutral territory if Sao Tome had problems in staging a home game - and the allegations of any dubious dealings avoided had SAFA not paid both countries' expenses - whatever the motivations.

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