JOHANNESBURG - Burkina Faso coach Paulo Duarte is confident the Stallions will qualify for the World Cup despite having to not only win their remaining two games but also factor in what Duarte calls Fifa’s “radical decision”.
Fifa didn’t only slap Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey with a lifetime ban for his poor officiating in Bafana Bafana’s 2-1 win over Senegal last year, but also ordered the match to be replayed next month, alleging there was match-fixing involved.
That landmark ruling hit the Stallions the hardest as they were in control of Group D, on top with their fate in their own hands after holding favourites Senegal to back-to-back draws.
The Burkinabe Football Federation said Fifa’s decision was “tainted by abuse of power and without any relation to the texts of international football forum”. They challenged the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas). While they wait for a ruling, all four teams in Group D can still qualify for the World Cup.
This makes Bafana’s clash with the Stallions on Saturday at FNB Stadium a must-win for both nations.
“The two teams have a chance to qualify, but we also have a radical Fifa decision to factor in,” Duarte said yesterday after his team’s training session at Ellis Park.
“It is the first time in my life I see this. Replay one match because the referee made a mistake and awarded a penalty that wasn’t there. Mistakes happen in every country and every league (but there are no replays). You can say that this is Africa but this isn’t an African decision, it’s a Fifa decision.
"For us it’s not good because before, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde only depended on themselves. Today, I don’t depend only on myself. Before this decision we were the favourites, now Senegal are the favourites.”
But Duarte hasn’t lost hope of taking the Stallions to their maiden World Cup. The Portuguese coach boldly predicted that Senegal would not beat Cape Verde, while he is confident his team can beat Bafana on Saturday and the Blue Sharks on November 6.
“I need to play to win my remaining two matches,” he said. “South Africa will play to win all their remaining matches, just like Cape Verde, and then we have to wait and see what happens with Senegal.
"In my head and my spirit, if I win these two matches I will qualify. If Senegal win their three matches, they would have qualified through the secretary (boardroom). The history will say that Burkina Faso were the best in this group. The papers might say another reality.
“Fifa shouldn’t punish three teams - Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and South Africa - because a referee made one mistake. That’s part of football.”