AS Safa waits for the Fifa disciplinary committee to announce its decision on the tense dispute between South Africa and Ghana, it has emerged that Caf is considering moving the 2022 World Cup play-offs to Qatar.
The Caf executive committee meets in Cairo, Egypt, tomorrow and TimesLive understands that the continental body wants to abandon the traditional home and away format that has been used over the years to decide the five teams to represent the continent at the global showpiece. This idea will top the agenda at the Caf meeting.
“It has emerged that the Caf executive wants the games to be played as a one-off, instead of over two legs, and the idea is to play the games at a neutral venue rather than here (in Africa),” an insider told TimesLive yeaterday.
“Qatar is the preferred venue because the World Cup will be played there next year anyway. This (suggestion) is intended to eliminate shenanigans and other underhand things that could happen when so much is at stake. So, it is likely that these games will be played in a neutral venue.”
The insider said poor officiating that has dogged some games during the World Cup qualifiers has made a lot of nations nervous as qualifying enters the home straight.
South Africa are one of the nations that have complained about the performance of match officials after Bafana Bafana crashed out of the qualifiers after dubious officiating in a decisive qualifier against Ghana in Cape Coast.
Safa suspects that Bafana’s 0-1 defeat to Ghana may have been fixed and has asked Fifa and Caf to investigate the conduct of the match officials.
Incensed Safa officials have maintained that they will not take the outcome of the match lying down and they want action to be taken against Senegalese referee Maguette Ndiaye and his colleagues Samba Elhadji Malick (assistant I), Camara Djibril (assistant II) and Gueye Daouda (fourth referee).
Fifa’s disciplinary committee met in Zurich, Switzerland, on Tuesday to decide whether Bafana’s hopes of making it to the play-offs would come to an end or be reignited, but the committee is yet to emerge with an outcome.
Dates for the play-offs draw will be announced after the Caf executive committee meeting in Cairo. The teams will be seeded according to Fifa rankings.
The insider said given that the Africa Cup of Nations will be held from January 9 to February 6 in Cameroon next year, the mooted plan to play the play-offs as a one-off is also intended to avoid overloading the players ahead of a major tournament. — TimesLive