Bafana on the brink as Ethiopia may lose more points
SOUTH Africa could get a boost in their seemingly doomed bid to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil next year - Ethiopia could lose points from their win over Bafana Bafana on Sunday as well.
Fifa is already investigating the eligibility of midfielder Minyahile Beyene for the 2-1 victory in Botswana on June 8. Ethiopia have admitted that the player should have been suspended for the fixture, having picked up two yellow cards in the qualification campaign.
It seems highly likely that Ethiopia's error in fielding him will cost them the points from the match against The Zebras.
But The Times has been told that, having fielded the same player against South Africa in the 2-1 win on Sunday, and since he is yet to officially serve his one-match suspension, Ethiopia should lose those three points too.
Former National Soccer League referee Colin Knott, a leading whistleman in the 1980s, believes this to be the case and says that, if Fifa doesn't take action, Safa should launch a complaint.
"By fielding the player [Beyene], Ethiopia are still in violation of the rules as he has not yet served his suspension. On that basis, the points from the game should go to South Africa," Knott says.
A look through the Fifa regulations doesn't make mention of the above scenario and gives no guidelines on what action to take.
Fifa would not comment on the matter while it is still under review. They referred The Times back to the organisation's disciplinary code documents - which provide no clarity.
Premier Soccer League general manager Derek Blanckensee said, had the situation played out in the domestic league, the matter would have gone to a disciplinary committee hearing, where a ruling would have been made.
But he said there was also no hard and fast guideline in the PSL statutes relating to this particular matter. Each case would be dealt with on its merits by the disciplinary committee.
If Ethiopia lose the six points gained in their matches against Botswana and South Africa, it would be a game-changer in the pool. It would place Bafana at the top of the pool - a point ahead of Ethiopia in the group - meaning a win in their final qualifier against Botswana in September would seal passage to the next stage.
As things stand Bafana are out of contention, but with Ethiopia almost certain to lose the Botswana points, Gordon Igesund's team might have a lifeline.
As it is, they trail Ethiopia by two points, meaning they need to beat Botswana and hope the Ethiopians get no more than a point away to Central African Republic in their final qualifier.