South Africa’s non-participation at the 2017 Cup of Nations was confirmed on Sunday as results in the other groups mean that Bafana Bafana cannot advance as one of the best two runners up.
Shakes Mashaba’s side thumped the Gambia 4-0 on Saturday to keep alive their faint hopes of an unlikely qualification, as Thamsanqa Gabuza and Keagan Dolly scored two apiece to take South Africa up to six points after five matches.
While top spot was already beyond them following Cameroon’s 1-0 victory at Mauritania on Friday evening, Bafana could still have moved up to nine points and—had a series of results in the other pools gone their way—clinched qualification with a win at home against Les Mourabitones in their final group match at the beginning of September.
However, any tiny hopes of progression ended on Sunday, as the Central African Republic’s 3-1 victory over Angola in Group B took them up to 10 points and therefore out of reach of Bafana.
Les Fauves joined Uganda—who saw off Botswana 2-1 away in Group D on Saturday—on 10 points, while Liberia’s draw against Togo on Sunday means that their Group A rivals Tunisia drop into second place, also on 10.
Bafana’s failure to qualify means they will miss out on the continental showpiece for the first time since 2012, having reached the quarter-finals in home soil in 2013 before being eliminated in the group stage in Equatorial Guinea 18 months ago.
They have previously failed to qualify in both 1994—two years before they won their only African crown—and 2010.