Bafana Bafana to replay Senegal: When it rains, it pours

Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo

Bafana Bafana have been ordered by Fifa to replay their World Cup qualifier against Senegal due to match manipulation, but is it a harsh decision? MARSHALL GOUTS explores.

South Africa claimed a 2-1 victory against the Lions of Teranga in November 2016, but their result is said to have been aided through match-fixing by the referee in charge, Joseph Lamptey.

Upon subsequent investigation by Fifa, the referee was slapped with a lifetime ban for breaching the law relating to “unlawfully influencing match results”. Lamptey proved unsuccessful in his appeals to the court of arbitration for sport, as well as Fifa’s appeal committee, resulting in South Africa having to replay their clash with Senegal.

A big fuss has been made by a number of local football fans suggesting that Fifa’s decision is a tad harsh, but is it really?

Ten months prior to the clash in question, Fifa set about strengthening their “commitment to combating match manipulation” with a delegation in China consisting of the Chinese football association (CFA), Fifa’s security director Ralf Mutschke, the Chinese ministry of public security (MPS) and the General administration of sports in China (GASC).

The agenda of the meeting was clear and the “establishment of specialised disciplinary processes was created between the MPS and the GASC to monitor and address suspect behaviours which could indicate match manipulation”.

Match-fixing has never been an unknown development in football, and Fifa’s increased efforts at thwarting corruption in the game just further places emphasis on ”playing it by the book”.

It’s been a horrendous week for Bafana, succumbing to back-to-back defeats against Cape Verde, which all but ended their chances of securing a spot at next year’s World Cup.

Also read: Stuart Baxter got it wrong against Cape Verde

Emotions and patriotism aside, Fifa’s decision to order a replay of Bafana’s game is a good one, and serves in the best interests of football as a whole, maybe not for the local football fans, but if the roles were reversed and Bafana ended up on the losing side against Senegal thanks to a dubious penalty given by the referee – I think I speak for most of the country when I say I’d want the game to be replayed!

In the statement publicising the decision to order a replay of the World Cup qualifying clash, Fifa revealed that they had evidence of match manipulation. In other words, the visibly dubious calls made by Lamptey against Senegal came as a result of being ordered to do so and it cannot be argued that they were genuine mistakes, as there is evidence of wrongdoing.

The banned Ghanian referee has a history of suspect officiating, but sadly for Bafana Bafana fans, the disgraced referee dabbling in wrongdoing during the World Cup qualifiers was caught in our game, and it could prove costly for our nation as Fifa look to set a precedent in a bid to rid the game of all corruption.

The senior national team face an uphill task of needing three wins from their remaining games against Senegal (twice) and Burkina Faso respectively, to stand a chance of qualifying for the World Cup.

What remains to be seen is, who is responsible for this match manipulation?

Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/Backpagepix

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