Always read the small print

South Africa have launched what is almost certainly a pointless appeal to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) as they attempted to find a way into the finals of the 2012 African Cup of Nations.

The South Africa management thought the group was decided on goal difference only to discover Niger had qualified by virtue of a better head-to-head record between the three teams who finished on nine points: Niger, South Africa and Sierra Leone.

“(We) wish to signal that we intend to challenge this interpretation and application of the rules,” the South African Football Association (SAFA) said in a statement.

SAFA added goal difference is the ‘the universally recognised means of separating teams”.

Or, in other words: “We didn’t read the rules beforehand, please reward us for our negligence.”

After the match, SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani claimed all was not lost.

“Do not despair. All is not lost – we believe we have a case and we will carry this fight all the way,” he said. “In the meantime be positive, and leave everything in our hands.”

Seing you’ve done such a good job so far, what could possibly go wrong?

Here are the South African players celebrating not qualifying for next year’s finals.

Out of Africa

Elsewhere, there were a number of shocks among the African Cup of Nations qualifiers. Several of the continent’s traditional heavyweights such as Cameroon, Nigeria and Egypt all failed to qualify, while the likes of Botswana and Niger will be making their first appearance at the finals.

However, it is the qualification of Libya that has attracted most attention.

The war-torn North African country reached the next year’s finals despite playing only one of three home fixtures at the 60,000-seat Tripoli national stadium because of the revolt against dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Libya forced a 0-0 draw away to Group C winners Zambia and clinched one of two spots reserved for the best second-place sides.

“My team-mates and I dedicate our qualification to all Libyans – to our revolution,” veteran keeper Samir Aboud told reporters

African Cup of Nations qualifiers

Gabon and Equatorial Guinea (Co-hosts)
Cote d’Ivoire
Burkina Faso

Heavy price to pay

In Europe, England became the fifth country to qualify for the Euro 2012 finals alongside, Germany, Spain, Holland and Italy. Fabio Capello’s side’s qualification, courtesy of a 2-2 draw in Montenegro, was overshadowed by the red card shown to Wayne Rooney.

Rooney will find out later this week whether he will receive a one or two-match ban. In mitigation, the striker could always claim his father had a few pounds riding on him not completing the 90 minutes.

Capello refused to guarante the striker a starting place when he has served his suspension.

“I could leave Rooney out,” said the England boss. “If the others are good they will play. In my life as a manager I have put on the bench a lot of good players.”

Yes, but surely, only when you had a decent alternative.

Here’s Rooney’s (latest) moment of stupidity.

Corinthian spirit

Corinthians appear to have renewed their interest in signing Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez.

Having failed to agree terms with the Premier League club earlier this summer, the Brazilian outfit are looking at a move next year.

“It was quite difficult to sign him because at the time it was shortly before our transfer window,” Corinthians director of football, Edu, explained.

“Now we are here (in England) and we will talk and see what the situation is and we will look to sign him in the summer.”

Edu revealed that he had met up with Tevez’s agent, Kia Joorabchian, at the recent Leaders in Football conference in London, but claims they did discuss Tevez. Joorabchian, it should be noted, does not possess a FIFA agent’s licence, but that does not stop him representing the interests of the player, albeit at times not his best interests.

“I spoke to him (Joorabchian) at the congress, but very formal not really about Tevez yet – we are quite friendly and have a good relationship but not about Tevez yet,” said Edu.

Just as well really; even in the chaotic world of unlicensed agents, tapping up a player behind his club’s back is still frowned upon.

Goal of the day

Australia’s A-League kicked off at the weekend and James Brown marked the occasion with this long-range strike for Gold Coast United against Wellington Phoenix.

Vote of confidence

He has only been there a matter of weeks, but Diego Maradona is already under pressure at UAE outfit Al-Wasl after Saturday’s 5-0 defeat to Dubai Club. One didn’t have to be a clairvoyant to have seen this one coming.

Al-Wasl have backed their coach by saying he needs time to develop the team.

“The season is long, and this is just one match,” Al-Wasl said in an official club statement.

“This is just the beginning and we have full faith in our head coach, who is working hard to develop a strong team that will be true contenders for this year’s league title.”

Following the defeat, Maradona apologised to the club’s supporters.

“I want to apologise to the Al Wasl supporters for this defeat,” he said. “I am very sad. We were on the right path with two successive victories and now we must focus on the championship and not look back.

“I hope that this defeat will not affect the morale of the squad who must learn lessons from this defeat.”


Italy World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro has admitted having regrets over his failure to secure a move to Napoli to end his career at his home town club.

The 38-year-old spent the last season of his career at Al Ahli in Dubai after Napoli decided against signing him when he left Juventus after the 2010 World Cup. At least his bank manager will have been pleased.

“The biggest regret I have is not being for Napoli what (Paolo) Maldini and (Francesco) Totti were for Milan and Roma respectively,” Cannavaro told Radio Deejay.

“I hoped and dreamed of becoming a talisman for this team, my Napoli.

“Naples is my life, it’s my city. That’s where my career started and Naples is everything to me. Yes, I have regrets.”

See Naples and get burgled

Sticking with Napoli and striker Edinson Cavani, whose house was burgled while he was away on international duty with Uruguay.

Thieves stole gold necklaces and clothing, including a pair of the striker’s football jerseys.

The burglary took place in the early hours of Sunday morning during which time there was no-one in the house.

The break-in was discovered by some neighbours, who called in police, on Sunday morning.

Future leader?

France legend Zinedine Zidane has enrolled on the same degree course that launched the coaching career of current France manager Laurent Blanc.

The Real Madrid director of sport has registered for a two-year university diploma at the Centre of Law and Sports Finances at Limoges in France.

When asked about his future ambitions, Zidane said: “France manager? Why not? It would not be bad. Anything is possible in life.”

Course joint chief Gerard Coudier told the Sun: “Former players speak three languages fluently — they know what a player’s contract is all about, they understand how agents and intermediaries work and they also know the limits.

“What characterises Zidane, a man completely successful in his life, is curiosity. He doesn’t need to come here, it’s not an imperative need.

“That shows that he comes here, curious and modest at the same time, because he wants to learn. It’s a dream to teach someone like that.”


Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo has branded supporters who chant Lionel Messi’s name to him during games as ‘abnormal’.

Ronaldo can barely leave the house these days without someone muttering the name ‘Messi’ under their breaths, and he was subjected to the chants during the Cyprus-Portugal international as well as Real Madrid’s Champions League recent game against Dinamo Zagreb.

“Messi? The fans who sing these things to me are abnormal,” said the Portuguese. “I know it is not the whole stadium and it isn’t something that worries me. Anyway, those people who like football like to see Cristiano Ronaldo play.”