South Africans are having a hard time not getting carried away with excitement this morning, and you can’t really blame us, as we haven’t had much to celebrate regarding Bafana recently.
However, on a serious note, after looking at the permutations, the vital instruction for the boys should be: do not lose against Morocco.
Morocco and Cape Verde did Bafana a big favour by drawing 1-1, meaning the hosts top Group A on four points – however every team in the group can still qualify.
The good news is any win or draw will take Bafana through.
Cape Verde and Morocco are on two points, while Angola are still on one.
South Africa play Morocco in their final group match, and a draw will mean we qualify for the knockout stages, no matter what the result of the Cape Verde vs Angola match.
A draw against Morocco will leave SA on five points, a tally no other team can better.
In other words, Bafana are certain of qualification unless we lose AND Cape Verde win. In that scenario Cape Verde and Morocco end on five points, while Bafana remain on four.
If Bafana lose and Angola win, Morocco will top the group on five points, Bafana and Angola will have four. In that case Bafana will go through, because of the win over Angola.
However, if SA draw and Cape Verde draw with Angola, we will top the group on five points, while Cape Verde and Morocco will be on three. Cape Verde and Morocco drew, so the decision would come down to goal-difference and then goals scored – in the matches between those two teams only (remember Mbombela? Sorry ...).
If that does not separate the teams, total goal-difference will be used; then total goals scored; then ‘fair play’, which takes into account the number of yellow and red cards; and finally, ‘the drawing of lots’.
Here are the rules regarding group qualification in full:
In case of equality of points between two or more teams, at the conclusion of the group matches, the ranking of the teams shall be established according to the following criteria:
72.1. Greater number of points obtained in the matches between the teams in question;
72.2. The best goal difference in the matches between the teams in question;
72.3. Greater number of goals scored in the matches between the teams concerned;
72.4. Goal difference in all group matches;
72.5. Greatest number of goals scored in all the group matches;
72.6. Fair Play points system taking into account the number of yellow and red cards;
72.7. Drawing of lots by CAF Organising Committee