Lamptey still in the spotlight
SENEGAL seem hell-bent on reversing the result of their 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifying 2-1 loss to South Africa in Polokwane after reports emerged that the west Africans have appealed to the world controlling body to declare the result null and void due to biased refereeing.
Unable to accept the shocking loss to a South African team they had initially undermined, Senegal launched a protest with both CAF and Fifa against Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey, claiming his handling of the match left a lot to be desired and added he was unfit to handle such a high pressure match.
The CAF Referees Committee, on reviewing the match, agreed that Lamptey was indeed poor in his handling of the match and certainly gifted the hosts their opening goal when he awarded South Africa a penalty which television replays clearly showed was an incorrect decision.
But after getting Lamptey suspended and even removed from the panel of referees scheduled to officiate at the upcoming African Cup of Nations in Gabon next month, Senegal seem to be pushing their luck by attempting to get the match annulled and a replay ordered on a technicality.
But on hearing the allegations, SA Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan, who is in the running for the presidency of the Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa), said he had not been informed by CAF or Fifa about the latest developments.
“But if indeed Senegal want the game to be declared null and void and are demanding a replay,” said Jordaan, “we shall not allow it. I do not want to pre-empt anything as I have not received any official correspondence on the matter and as such I regard it as nothing else but hearsay.
“However, if indeed Senegal have appealed against the result, we will naturally fight it. It is universally accepted that a referee’s decision is final and as far as we are concerned, the match was played to a finish and South Africa won 2-1 and, until informed otherwise, we will not spend sleepless nights fretting about the result.”
The Fifa media office pleaded ignorance when approached to comment about the situation and claimed they have not yet received any instructions from the west Africans but as soon as they do, will notify the media.
But while the South Africans are presenting a brave face, the fact that Fifa’s newly elected secretary general, Fatma Samoura, is Senegalese must be causing some unease among the Safa head honchos down Nasrec way. No-hopers Guinea-Bissau stunned Congo Brazzaville, Zambia and Kenya to reach the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time.
A Portuguese colony in west Africa with a population of less than two million, Guinea-Bissau beat Zambia 3-2 in the penultimate qualifying round for the 2017 tournament in Gabon.
Congo had to avoid defeat in Kenya 24 hours later to keep the group alive, but they suffered a 2-1 defeat, giving Guinea-Bissau an uncatchable four-point advantage. It was a remarkable turnaround for Guinea-Bissau, who took only one point from a possible six in the opening two rounds before home and away wins over Kenya offered hope.
Zambia won the 2012 Cup of Nations and Congo were quarterfinalists in Equatorial Guinea last year while Kenya remain the sleeping giants of east Africa.
Uganda were a close second behind Guinea-Bissau when it came to creating headlines as they qualified for the first time since finishing runners-up in 1978 to hosts Ghana.
The “Cranes” edged Comoros 1-0 in Kampala to take one of two places reserved for the best group runnersup. Title-holders, Ivory Coast, could only draw 1-1 at home to Sierra Leone in the final qualifiers and scraped into the tournament by one point. Florent Ibenge, pictured, proved that a coach can successfully handle THREE teams at the same time by guiding the Democratic Republic of Congo to a second Nations Championship (Chan) title.
After close victories over hosts Rwanda and Guinea in the knockout stages, the Congolese outplayed Mali 3-0 in the final in rain-lashed Kigali.
Winger Elia Meschak was the star of the final, and the tournament, scoring twice against Mali before Jonathan Bolingi completed the scoring in a disappointingly one-sided climax.
Apart from guiding the home-based national team, Ibenge also coaches the full national squad and Kinshasa side V Club.
The national team are on course to play at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, 42 years after being humiliated 9-0 by Yugoslavia during their only previous appearance.
V Club eliminated Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa in the final qualifying round of the 2016 Caf Champions League only to be kicked out for using a suspended player. Given a second chance, Sundowns won the competition, leaving Ibenge and his squad wondering what might have been had they avoided fielding a player serving a four-match ban.
Rwanda were lauded by Caf for their organisation of the 16-nation tournament and seem destined to become hosts of the flagship Cup of Nations.