Sihlangu’s Jackie Mathonsi threw up his hands in despair, his country’s dream of making it through to the next stage of the competition shattered by his decision to call ‘Fair Play’ when the coin was flipped.
These agonising, tension-filled moments in the Atlantic Conference room at the Nkoyoyo Guest House after the Group A qualifying match between Swaziland and Seychelles yesterday are described by Thami Phakathi in the Swaziland Times today.
The Shakes Mashaba coached Swazis had beaten Seychelles 1-0, but the result tied them with Madagascar on five points each. Both teams also shared the same goal difference (one).
Phakathi describing the scene said Sihlangu fans and players who were watching the proceedings closely through the windows were dejected after the result was announced.
“They stood transfixed for a moment before reluctantly moving away from the area and headed straight to their cars. Director of Sports and Culture Maswazi Shongwe, who was also part of the Swazi team outside the conference room was overhead shouting: ‘Asambeni siyekhaya madoda!’ (Let us all go home, we have lost it).
Interviewed after the toss Mathonsi said: “The rules state that in the case of a tie we go straight to a toss. When I got inside I chose ‘Fifa’, but then the committee pushed me to change to ‘Fair Play’ as they said Madagascar had picked ‘Fifa’ already.
“I tried to call for a replay, but they said they could not bend the rules. It was unfortunate we lost as you saw the boys fought hard here and we were the better team. We’ll do our best next time.”
Madagascar is now set for battle with Angola in the Cosafa quarterfinals set for Witbank this coming weekend.
* Italy beat the Soviet Union on a coin toss in the semifinals of the 1968 European Championships, which was hosted and won by the Italians. The game finished 0-0 after extra time and in those days penalties were not used to decide fixtures.