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FIFA investigating Ethiopia, Togo

JOHANNESBURG -- FIFA is investigating Ethiopia and Togo for allegedly fielding ineligible players in World Cup qualifying, potentially leading to the Ethiopians losing their place in the final playoffs for Brazil 2014.

Possible sanctions against the two teams could significantly affect Africa's qualifying competition for next year's World Cup and help South Africa and Cameroon's chances -- but hinder Libya's.

Ethiopia qualified Sunday for the final playoffs in October and November with a 2-1 win over South Africa, but potentially faces being stripped of its 2-1 win in Botswana on June 8 for an alleged ineligible player there.

FIFA said it is also looking at Togo's 2-0 home win over Cameroon on June 9, which could now be awarded to Cameroon, pushing it above Libya in the race for a playoff place in their qualifying group.

FIFA did not say which players were under suspicion or why they may be ineligible.

The typical punishment for fielding ineligible players is a 3-0 win for the opposition team and FIFA has already punished Burkina Faso, Gabon and Sudan for ineligible players in qualifying.

Ethiopia won a place among Africa's final 10 countries with its 2-1 win over South Africa this weekend, but if its earlier victory over Botswana is ruled out, it will only lead South Africa by two points ahead of the final round of Group A games and won't yet be sure of a place in the playoffs.

Botswana also would then have an outside chance of jumping above both teams and grabbing the playoff spot.

If Cameroon is awarded a 3-0 victory in the game against Togo in Lome, it will go above Libya and need just a draw at home against the Libyans in September to progress from Group I.

The 10 group winners in African qualifying proceed to two-legged playoff ties to decide the five World Cup qualifiers.

FIFA also said Sunday that Equatorial Guinea was appealing against a decision to strip it of its 4-3 win over Cape Verde in March for an ineligible player. If FIFA's ruling is upheld and Cape Verde is awarded the game 3-0, it will mean Tunisia's place in the playoffs is not yet certain.

Tunisia would then lead Cape Verde by two points ahead of a meeting between the two countries in September to decide Group B.

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