South Africa and Senegal return to the pitch in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying after FIFA annulled their earlier encounter of November 2016 due to poor officiating and ordered for a replay.
The referee of the match Joseph Lamptey from Ghana has been handed a life ban after being found guilty of match manipulation.
The Teranga Lions coach Aliou Cisse spoke to ACLSports.com about the decision and how it affects their Group D.
ACLSports.com: Were you expecting such a decision from Fifa?
Cisse: No. Definitely no! We were already running our campaign taking into consideration that we lost that game.
ACLSports.com: The new development happens to favour Senegal more than South Africa, so everybody feels you guys are happy over there in Dakar.
Cisse: That is what people are saying but not really true. In the first place, we are happy because justice was done. We felt cheated and that has been repaired by Fifa and CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport). And now the second step is the replay itself. It’s going to be a football game, open to both sides.
ACLSports.com: Do you think that controversial loss to Bafana Bafana affected your campaign?
Cisse: Initially, but we had to overcome it and face the rest of the matches. Thinking back at the game wouldn’t help anybody. And you can see that although we are third in the group we are still very much in the race.
ACLSports.com: The replay will take place in South Africa, meaning you will be playing away from home. Do you see that as a huge advantage for Bafana Bafana, whose back is against the wall?
Cisse: We know it is going to be tough. They would likely put in their all for a positive result and perhaps to show the world that that referee did not really have any influence on the original encounter. We will prepare for it because it is another chance to grab three points. We have the men to fight and we shall fight to return home with a favourable outcome.
ACLSports.com: Burkina Faso appear to be your biggest threat in the group. Don’t you think they can as well run away with the group’s ticket to Russia?
Cisse: Yes, the Stallions are playing fine and they stand a major threat, however, we have finished our home and away clashes with them which ended in draws. They have one tough trip to South Africa next month while we play away to Cape Verde. I think the group is still very open for everybody.