Lamptey still in the spot­light

African Independent - - SPORT - THOMAS KWENAITE

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.

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