The South African Football Association’s request for a postponement of Banyana Banyana’s second leg 2012 London Olympic qualifying match against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on September 11 has been rejected by their opponents who are insisting that the game should go ahead as fixture by the Confederation of African Football.
When CAF and Fifa drew the fixture list of the 2012 London Olympic Games, Banyana Banyana were paired with Ethiopia in the final first leg qualifier in South Africa on August 28 and the second leg match penciled in for Addis Ababa on the weekend of September 11.
The other semifinal sees Nigeria playing against Cameroon on the same weekends and the winners in the two-legged qualifiers qualify for the London Olympics. However, that was before Banyana also qualified for the All Africa Games that get underway in Maputo on September 3-18.
The All Africa Games sees Banyana opening their programme against Zimbabwe on September 5. They then play Tanzania on September 8 and round off their group phase of the tournament against Ghana on September 11, the same day that they are also supposed to face Ethiopia in the second leg Olympic Games qualifier in Addis Ababa!
“We wrote a letter to CAF notifying them of the clash in fixtures as our second leg Olympic fixture clashed with our final All Africa Games group match against Ghana,” said Nomsa Mahlangu, the chairperson of women football and Safa National Executive member.
“However, we have just received a response from CAF informing us that they notified the Ethiopian federation about our predicament, but that our request has been turned down and the Ethiopians are insisting that the games should go ahead as scheduled.
“We have not yet given up hope and will engage both Ethiopia and CAF once more. But in the event of them turning us down again, we will have to consider negotiating with organizers of the Maputo All Africa Games.”
This might involve Banyana Banyana requesting permission to play their opening game against Zimbabwe possibly on September 3 instead of 5 and failing which, play Tanzania on September 8 and then complete the group matches against Ghana the next day.
Then catch a flight to Johannesburg and connect to Addis Ababa on September 10 and play the Ethiopians on September 11 and then fly back to Johannesburg and depending on if they have qualified for the semi-finals, rush back to Maputo to continue their participation in the event.
“It is certainly not an ideal situation,” admitted Mahlangu. “But what can we do? We articulated our predicament to CAF to relay to the Ethiopians and we thought they would be sympathetic to our problem. But clearly they are not impressed or interested and so, we have to re-arrange our plans.”
This now means Banyana will play Ethiopia who eliminated the Ghanaian Black Queens in the previous round of the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Sinaba Stadium on August 28 and then fly to Maputo for the All Africa Games opening ceremony.