Banyana face controversial Guinea


The eligibility of a number of the Equatorial Guinea players has been called into question, most notably Cote d'Ivoire-born striker Salimata Simpore who, it is claimed, even played for the Ivorians in the qualifiers!

The match is of vital importance of course, because the winners will qualify for next year’s FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany, a stage Banyana have never before reached.

They lost to Equatorial Guinea in the last African Women's Championship Final in 2008, but that tournament had no bearing on the World Cup places.

It will be interesting to see what Safa does should they lose today, because CAF have already waved away one protest from Cameroon over Simpore, limply citing a lack of evidence and saying they would need to launch a full investigation, which would only happen some time after the current tournament ends.

But it is not just Simpore who is a controversial member of the side. Banyana will be up against women from Brazil, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Senegal, all fast-tracked as Equatorial Guinea citizens.

But FIFA brought in regulations several years ago that is supposed to stop countries handing passports to ‘bought’ players. Instead, players who seek to play for countries other than their own must prove they have blood ties to their new country or must serve a three-year residency period.

But Equatorial Guinea are flying in Brazilians and west Africans to do their dirty work, making them citizens, and the country has gone from being one of the minnows of African football to real contenders in the women's game in just a few years.

However, when they won the tournament in 2008, the same set of circumstances applied, but CAF showed no willingness to address the matter and so they have been allowed to flout the rules once more in 2010.

In today's first semifinal, Nigeria play Cameroon in what should be a fantastic west African battle between two top sides … made up of players from their own countries.