The South African Football Association (SAFA) has registered an appeal with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) over its side's failure to qualify for the 2012 African Nations Cup tournament.
South Africa were held to a goalless draw against Sierra Leone and, despite finishing top of Group G on goal difference, were denied a place at the finals. The reason was that they were tied on nine points with Sierra Leone and Niger (with Egypt in fourth place) and rule 14.1 of the CAF regulations maintains that a mini-league between the concerned teams is the first method of separating them. Niger's six points from the games therefore saw them through.
However, in a letter addressed to CAF, the SAFA states: "We have noted that CAF has announced that Niger has qualified in our group, despite South Africa finishing on top of the group in terms of goal difference, which is the universally recognised means of separating teams who are equal on points.
''We understand that you are using rule 14.1 to make your determination. However, we believe that the team finishing top of the log at the end of the competition is automatically determined at the end of 90 minutes play, and that the second place is determined by the other rules. We will lay out our objection more fully shortly, but in the meantime wish to signal that we intend to challenge this interpretation and application of the rules."
SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani said after the game: "Do not despair, all is not lost. We believe we have a case and we will carry this fight all the way. If CAF's rules are ambiguous then we need to challenge that and we are well within our rights to do so. In the meantime be positive, and leave everything in our hands."
South Africa openly celebrated what they thought was a successful result after the game before being told otherwise, and coach Pitso Mosimane has admitted that he was in the wrong.
"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," he said. "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.
"Africa is a jungle, my friend. The European and South American formats are so much better because everything is running smoothly, but it's very difficult to play in Africa."