South Africa’s World Cup dreams alive after Ethiopia penalised

Johannesburg, July 2 (IANS) South Africa kept their hopes alive of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals as FIFA penalised Ethiopia for fielding a suspended player.

FIFA announced Monday it had fined Ethiopia and awarded the match 3-0 to Botswana. Ethiopia used Minyahile Teshome Beyene, who was supposed to serve a match suspension, in the match with Botswana played June 8. Ethiopia had beaten Botswana 2-1, reports Xinhua.

The penalty gives South Africa, who after the penalty trail Ethiopia by two points in Group A, a reprieve.

Ethiopia are still favourites to top the group as they visit the Central African Republic Sep 6, while South Africa face Botswana in the last qualifying game.

“We welcome the decision, which I believe was expected. It was never in doubt because rules are rules, so in our view it is a correct decision. The decision also gives us a second bite on the cherry; we now have to beat Botswana and hope Ethiopia loses or draws against Central African Republic. But I am very pleased with the outcome,” said South African coach Gordon Igesund.

South African Football Association (SAFA) also welcomed FIFA’s decision to deduct points from Ethiopia. SAFA Chief Executive Officer Dennis Mumble said, “we accept and welcome the announcement by FIFA. We would also like to reiterate our coach’s views that there is now much more to play for in the qualifiers as we believe we stand a good chance of proceeding to the next round of play-offs, even though it must be noted that it’s no longer in our hands. But we will go there (match against Botswana) and do the best we can, and hope for a favorable result in the other match.”

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