It was lights out — literally — in Dakar, Senegal, where the home team was set to face South Africa in what will likely turn out to be a meaningless World Cup qualifier. (Senegal is already through, while South Africa has been eliminated.)
Just before kickoff the stadium lights blacked out, which delayed the game by several minutes while workers scrambled to fix the situation. In the meantime, fans lit the stadium with their cellphones, which didn’t do much for the lighting on the field, but made for a stunning scene.
The action eventually kicked off, and while the scene at the stadium was reportedly one of jubilation, some on the Internet are warning Senegal fans to slow their roll. Despite qualifying for the 2018 World Cup — the team’s first trip to the tournament since 2002 — officials from Burkina Faso, which was set to play Cape Verde on Tuesday, said things might not seem as straightforward as they seem.
To understand, one must return to November of last year when South Africa beat Senegal, 2-1, in a match that FIFA ordered be replayed after charging the referee, Joseph Lamptey of Ghana, with match-fixing and banning him for life. That match, replayed on Friday, saw Senegal beat South Africa, 2-0, but Burkina Faso officials said their side appealed to a power higher than FIFA to say the original match should count. That decision, reportedly to be determined by the Court of Arbitration for Sport by Dec. 1, remains out.
“Senegal have not yet qualified,” Sita Sangare, the president of the Burkina Faso’s soccer association said (via the Mirror) on Tuesday. “An appeal has been made to the CAS and it has to be respected. . . . It has told us that our appeal is admissible, and better still they have told South Africa the same about their own appeal.
Although it’s unlikely that the CAS would override FIFA in this case that appears pretty cut and dry, in theory, it could happen. And that could renew both South Africa’s and Burkina Faso’s hopes of qualifying over Senegal under certain conditions. For Burkina Faso to advance, they would need CAS to grant the appeal, as well as the team to win its final qualifier against Cape Verde, and for South Africa and Senegal to draw.
South Africa, meanwhile, appears to be able to qualify if CAS grants the appeal, the team wins Tuesday and Burkina Faso does not do better than to draw against Cape Verde.
In the chance that any of these very unlikely scenarios occurs, either team would have to then hope Senegal doesn’t use the appeals process to further complicate matters.
At halftime, Senegal-South Africa was tied 0-0, while Burkina Faso led Cape Verde, 1-0.