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A FIFA committee has determined that Ethiopia was guilty of fielding an ineligible player during a World Cup qualifying match against Botswana on June 8. The player, Minyahile Beyene, had picked up two yellow cards in previous games and was not supposed to play in the match that saw Ethiopia beat Botswana 2-1. FIFA has consequently awarded a 3-0 win to Botswana, reducing a 5-points lead that Ethiopia had over its closest rival, South Africa to only two. Ethiopia now has 10 points, South Africa 8, and Botswana 7. Central Africa Republic (CAR) completes FIFA Group A but has no chance of qualifying for the next round, which will pick the top 10 teams and whittle that down to the 5 countries that will represent Africa in the 2014 World Cup to be held in Brazil.
These teams have only one match to go, with South Africa playing Botswana and Ethiopia playing against the Central Africa Republic on September 6, 2013. It is impossible at this juncture to determine who will lead the group and qualify for the next round; If Ethiopia beats CAR, they will top the group, but if they lose the match, South Africa could grasp the top spot should they win their match. Botswana chances of winning are slim, as they require both South Africa and Ethiopia to lose their matches.
The Ethiopia Football Federation was also fined $6,348, for what some officials called an ‘administrative blunder’ that allowed Beyene to play.
Ethiopia is not the only country that has been penalized by FIFA for one offence or the other; Sudan suffered the same fate for fielding a suspended player, while Gabon and Burkina Faso have lost points for fielding ineligible Cameroon-born players, and Equatorial Guinea has a case to answer for allegedly importing players from Colombia and Brazil. Togo is also under investigation for fielding an ineligible player.
By Matengo Chwanya