When Pitso Mosimane Failed to Read the AFCON Qualification Rules Costing Bafana Bafana

When Pitso Mosimane Failed to Read the AFCON Qualification Rules Costing Bafana Bafana

Jarryd Westerdale
updated at January 6, 2024 at 1:33 PM
In this article:
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
  • Pitso Mosimane was head coach of South Africa after their 2010 FIFA World Cup failure
  • Mosimane was in charge of the Bafana Bafana squad which missed out on the 2012 AFCON
  • Players, coaches and officials celebrated early but had misread CAF's qualification tie-breakers

The wise like to say 'Always read the fine print'.

Before Pitso Mosimane was the most sought-after coach on the African continent, he played a role in an embarrassing premature celebration at Mbombela Stadium.

South Africa had just drawn with Sierra Leone and everyone under the SAFA banner was looking forward to the 2012 AFCON, save for a nasty realisation.

Pitso Mosimane, Bafana Bafana, AFCON 2012, qualifying, Niger, Sierra Leone.
Pitso Mosimane oversaw an embarrassing miscalculation in the final game of the qualification for AFCON 2012. Photos: Stephane de Sakutin.
Source: Getty Images

South Africa were under the impression that they had qualified for the 2012 AFCON as winners of Group G of CAF qualification.

After the goalless draw, they finished on nine points, level with Sierra Leone and Niger, but with a superior goal difference.

With the corks of the champagne already popped, CAF officials informed a bemused South Africa that head-to-head records were the deciding factor.

Compounding their embarrassment, SAFA appealed the decision, with President Kirsten Nematandani quoted by SA News saying:

"If CAF's rules are ambiguous, then we need to challenge that and we are well within our rights to do so. In the meantime, be positive, and leave everything in our hands,"

It was pointed out to SAFA that in the case of teams being level on points, the 'greater number of points obtained in the matches between the concerned teams' would decide who progressed.

Mosimane would not regain any Bafana Bafana momentum and sacked months later. The Mail and Guardian quoted his thoughts after the debacle, stating:

"I feel like I have failed. Do you think I would have left Majoro on the bench and put on a midfielder if I knew that we needed a goal? It doesn’t make sense."

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Jarryd Westerdale photo
Jarryd Westerdale
Jarryd Westerdale (based in Johannesburg) joined Sports Brief after four years in the community journalism sphere. He is a two-time Alet Roux Award winner and was a finalist in multiple categories at the Forum of Community Journalism Excellence Awards.
Pitso Mosimane