Hayatou: 'African football is on the up'

CAF president hails the achievement of Burkina Faso as striker Jonathan Pitroipa is confirmed for Nations Cup final.

    Hayatou: 'African football is on the up'
    Burkina Faso’s star striker Pitroipa was confirmed for Sunday’s final after Tunisian Slim Jdidi admitted his refereeing mistake booking the player for a second yellow in the semi-final [AFP]

    The presence of outsiders Burkina Faso in Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations final is a positive sign for football on the continent, CAF president Issa Hayatou says.

    The Burkinabe have made it to Soccer City at the expense of traditional African powers like Ghana and Ivory Coast.

    "The fact that Burkina made the final is a positive sign for the development of football in Africa," Hayatou told reporters here on Friday.

    "There aren't small or big teams, everyone is on a level footing."


    Hayatou said he was satisfied with attendances at the 2013 Nations Cup despite many games mustering barely a couple of thousand fans.

    "South Africa has stadiums with big capacities. When there are 45,000 seats you have the feeling it's empty. South Africa were knocked out, but people still went to matches."

    The competition has been marked by some controversial refereeing decisions, not least the officiating of Burkina Faso's semi-final win over Ghana.

    But Hayatou said: "Overall we are satisfied with the African refereeing.

    "We've seen mistakes, especially in the Burkina-Ghana semi-final.

    "There've been two or three badly managed matches, but overall the refereeing is in the process of improving."

    The pitch at Nelspruit, which played host to Burkina's penalty shoot-out win over Ghana on Wednesday, has come in for heavy criticism after a fungal infection killed swathes of grass before the tournament began.

    Hayatou commented: "The pitch wasn't awful, it was the colour of the grass which wasn't good.

    "Before the competition began they put on products which made the green colour disappear, but the pitch itself was good."

    Hayatou, 66, who is standing for his seventh term of office in Morocco next month, looked back on his tenure so far.

    "We have given credibility to CAF, improved resources. African football is on the up and up, we're going to continue that so one day an African side can win the World Cup."

    Pitroipa in

    Burkina Faso's star striker Jonathan Pitroipa, who picked up a red card in Wednesday's semi-final, is set to play in Sunday's final after all.

    For Pitroipa to be able to take part the referee in Wednesday's game had to admit he had made a mistake in booking the player for a second time for diving, something Tunisian Slim Jdidi has now done, Hayatou said.

    "Everyone realised that this referee did not officiate well," Hayatou said.

    "They've told me the referee has sent a letter saying he got it wrong.

    "From this moment, the CAF executive committee will pass on the matter to the disciplinary commission, who will announce their decision today (Friday).

    "The referee admitted his error in his report given to the (CAF) secretary general (Hicham El Amrani) - he recognised that he had got it wrong."

    Jdidi's admission that he had erred paves the way for the red card to be rescinded and for Pitroipa to take his place in the Burkina Faso side to face Nigeria at Soccer City on Sunday.

    Pitroipa produced the only goal in the 1-0 extra-time quarter-final win over Togo. He has helped lighten the blow of the Burkinabe losing their best striker Alain Traore to injury.

    Jdidi, who has been suspended for his poor performance in Wednesday's game, sent off the Rennes forward in the 117th minute of the game that Burkina won on penalties against Ghana.



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