South Africa need a miracle to qualify for 2010 Nations Cup

A goalless draw in a World Cup qualifier in Pretoria on Saturday against Sierra Leone has left the 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa with very little chance of qualifying for the 2010 African Nations Cup.

Under new coach Joel Santana, who in April took over from Carlos Alberto Parreira, the Bafana Bafana again disappointed as they failed to convert their chances, the dpa reported.

The African 2010 World Cup qualifiers are doubling up as qualifiers for the 2010 Nations Cup and although South Africa are automatically qualified for the World Cup, they have to qualify for the 2010 Nations Cup, which is to be held in Angola.

Drawn into Group 4 with Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea, South Africa have just four points from four games and have no chance of catching run-away leaders Nigeria, who on Saturday became the first country to qualify for the next round after beating Equatorial Guinea 2-0.

A complicated qualifying process sees the 12 group winners as well as the eight best second-placed qualify for the next round.

The eight second-placed teams will be determined by taking the 11 second-placed teams from the groups consisting of four countries, deducting the points they achieved against the bottom-placed team in their group and then ranking them.

The second-placed team from the one group with three countries will also be considered for the ranking.

If, as expected, Sierra Leone beat bottom team Equatorial Guinea at home in their next game, South Africa, who have two games remaining, can only achieve four points for that ranking, even if they finish runner-up.

They lost in Nigeria and Sierra Leone and drew with Sierra Leone at home on Saturday.

Thus if they beat Nigeria at home, they would have just four points - irrespective of whether they beat Equatorial Guinea - in all probability far too few to qualify as one of the eight best-placed teams.

It would need a string of sensational results in other groups to allow the 2010 World Cup host to qualify as one of the best second- placed teams.

Failure to qualify for Angola would leave South Africa with just the Confederations Cup next year in terms of competitive matches before the World Cup on home soil.

Former Brazilian club coach Santana, who took over Bafana after Parreira's sudden resignation, believes that his side can still qualify for the Nations Cup.

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