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FIFA has failed to act on allegations that Burkina Faso flouted rules on fielding foreign-born players on their way to qualifying for the African Nations Cup.
In doing so, soccer’s governing body has potentially opened the floodgates for other teams to do the same.
Burkina Faso’s campaign included home-and-away wins over Namibia, who alleged that in both games the Burkinabe fielded Russian-based Cameroon-born defender Herve Zengue.
The Burkinabe said Zengue had obtained nationality by marrying one of their nationals. However, FIFA statutes also say that a player must have lived in his adopted country for at least five years before he can represent their country.
Al Ahli failed to reach the semi-final stage after drawing 1-1 at home with Esperance of Tunisia in their final group game in the Egyptian capital on Friday.
Being in Cabinda for the African Nations Cup should have been fun. At first, it was not, to say the least. The Togo team bus came under fire, with the assistant coach and a press officer being shot to death by a group of separatists as they were on their way to Cabinda from Pointe Noire, Congo.
It was only after long talks and multiple changes of minds that the Sparrowhawks decided to leave the Angolan northern enclave to fly back home and mourn their dead.
African Nations Cup organisers will be bundle of nerves over the next 24 hours, contemplating the fate of host nation in the tournament.
Angola blew a phenomenal four goal lead in Sunday’s opening match against Mali and now look vulnerable to the prospect of early elimination if they fail to beat Malawi on Thursday (1830 GMT).
UPDATE: The death toll has risen to three. The bus driver died on Friday and an assistant coach and press officer died on Saturday. Togo appear to have pulled out.
African Nations Cup organisers are adamant that the tournament will go ahead in Angola despite Friday’s ambush of the Togo team bus.
Hosting major sports events is usually seen as a golden opportunity to showcase the country, improve the infrastructure and attract foreign visitors. Angola, which has spent an estimated $1 billion to stage this month’s African Nations Cup, seems to be an exception.
Rather perversely, the former Portuguese colony appears to be doing little to help foreign visitors get in. From my own experience, Angola has not eased its byzantine visa regulations for would-be Nations Cup visitors. Accredited journalists are among those who have missed out because the promised Letter of Invitation from the organising committee — necessary to get the treasured visa — was either sent too late or went to the embassy in the wrong country.