Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana’s failure to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations of Nations (Afcon) didn't deter South Africans from coming together to find a common favourite and enemy in the delayed continental showpiece out in Cameroon.
On Tuesday night, social media platforms were buzzing as local discerning football fanatics backed Comoros against Ghana. This was an ambitious pursuit, given the fact that Ghana are a powerhouse while the Islanders are minnows.
But to the surprise of the football fraternity across the globe, Comoros, the Afcon debutants and 132nd ranked nation in the world, held their own, churning out a 3-2 victory to knock the four-time African champions out of the tournament.
This was a disgrace for the Black Stars who finished bottom of the group with one point, while it was justice for some of Bafana’s fans who felt they were unfairly booted out of the World Cup qualifiers by Ghana at the Cape Coast last year.
In the last game of the World Cup qualifiers, Ghana beat Bafana 1-0 to finish at the summit of the group and qualify for the play-off thanks to a penalty-kick from Andre Ayew. But visual footage showed that the penalty decision was not “spot on”.
SAFA appealed to FIFA to review the decision of referee Maguette N’diaye, hoping for a replay. But the governing body dismissed SAFA’s plea, with Bafana having to wait for another cycle before attempting to qualify for the World Cup.
But in a bigger scheme of things, Tuesday didn’t only belong to the South Africans who were elated with the elimination of Ghana, but to the entire COSAFA council. Its representatives at Afcon, Malawi and Zimbabwe, held their own.
Both in Group B, alongside Senegal and Guinea, Malawi and Zimbabwe finished third and fourth respectively. But Malawi will feel hard-done by their draw with the highest ranked nation in Africa, Senegal, after an overruled penalty appeal.
Late in the second half, Malawi were awarded a penalty. But after consultation with the Video Assistant Referee, the referee decided to reverse his decision – awarding a drop ball to the Senegalese instead as the game finished 0-0 in the end.
However, not all is lost for Malawi who’ll be crossing fingers in the bid of being chosen as one of four best third-place finishers who’ll qualify for the last 16. Kudos should go to Orlando Pirates’ striker Gabadinho Mhango who’s been in fine form.
Mhango scored a brace in their 2-1 win over Zimbabwe in the second game of the group stage, while he was handful for Senegal's defence on Tuesday - a feat that has seen him being backed by many to be a regular at Pirates this year.
While Zimbabwe may have been one of the teams, including the Black Stars of Ghana, who exited the tournament in the first round, they’ll be pleased with their outing in the tournament. The Warriors won one game and lost two in the process.
They were unfortunate in the opening game, conceding a loss in added time - thanks to a Sadio Mane penalty-kick. But after the loss to Malawi, they dusted themselves off to beat Guinea by 2-1 – in the last game of the group stage in Yaounde.