(Corrects typo in headline)
By Mark Gleeson
JOHANNESBURG Oct 9 A little more than a year
after hosting a successful World Cup, South Africa woke up with
a giant hangover on Sunday after a failure to understand the
rules saw them miss out on qualification for the African Nations
Coach Pitso Mosimane admitted he had changed tactics and
played for a draw in Saturday's final qualifier at home to
Sierra Leone, thinking it was sufficient to win the group and
qualify for the 2012 finals.
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, but no one appeared to have studied the
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 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 told reporters.
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 (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
"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
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
He and Mosimane are now likely to face calls to resign.
(Editing by John O'Brien; To comment on this story email
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