ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia soccer officials have admitted fielding an ineligible player in a World Cup qualifier and are resigned to being stripped of three points, potentially handing South Africa and Botswana a 2014 lifeline.
"We have evaluated the situation and we came across the issue that we made a mistake," Ethiopian Football Federation president Sahilu Gebremariam told Reuters.
Soccer's world governing body FIFA announced on Sunday it was investigating allegations that Ethiopia had fielded an ineligible player in a qualifier against Botswana on June 8.
The announcement came hours after a 2-1 win over South Africa in Addis Ababa secured them top place in Group A and a place in the final phase of the African qualifiers for the 2014 finals in Brazil.
That win also appeared to have ended the hopes of 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa and Botswana reaching next year's finals as Ethiopia had opened up what was an unassailable five-point lead in the group.