South Africa Fail to Qualify for Their Own World Cup (But Will Still Be There, Obviously)
World Cup 2010 qualifying could be a bit of an embarrassment for South Africa. The team are already qualified for the tournament as hosts of course, but were still competing because the CAF qualifiers double up as the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t gone well. Though South Africa were apparently the better team on Saturday. the above strike from Nigeria’s Ikechukwu Uche handed South Africa a 1-0 home defeat and means no Africa Cup of Nations 2010 and a symbolic failure to qualify for World Cup 2010.
(table swiped from Wikipedia)
The winners of each of the twelve groups qualify for the Second Group Round (the final qualification phase) as well as the eight best runners up. From that Second Group Round (five groups of four) the winners qualify for the World Cup and the top two plus best 3rd place team qualify for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.
I’m not quite sure of the maths involved, but apparently the defeat means South Africa have failed to qualify for said Second Group Round, and therefore failed to qualify for the World Cup on merit and failed to qualify for African Cup of Nations altogether.
Bad news for three reasons:
1. World Cup 2010 will be the first time I can remember that we can say with 100% that the host country wouldn’t be involved if they weren’t throwing the party.
2. If FIFA do end up changing World Cup venues (sorry to be a doom-monger, but it’s not a completely impossible scenario) then does that still guarantee South Africa’s qualification? Better get those stadiums built.
3. Missing out on the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations will be a huge blow to morale for coach Joel Santana and his team. But it also ruins what would have been the perfect World Cup 2010 preparation. To take your WC team to Angola for a full on tournament just five months before the big kickoff would have been ideal. Watching it on telly, not so much.