Head to head vs goal difference in African football - Goalpedia

Goal Kenya.

In any competition, when participating teams finish level be it in a league or a qualifying group, they have to be separated to find a winner.

There are two ways to handle the situation, one is to use the head-to-head record, or sometimes it can be done by applying goal difference.

For instance, in the Uefa Champions League when teams finish level on points in the qualifying group the head-to-head record is used and that means if team A beats team B at home and then draws away Team A will finish above Team B in the table.

So how do competitions in Africa apply the head-to-head or goal difference rule when teams are level on points?

How does the Africa Cup of Nations rank teams?

In the Africa Cup of Nations, the following tiebreakers are applied as per (Regulations Article 14):

1.   Points in head-to-head matches among tied teams

2.   Goal difference in head-to-head matches among tied teams

3.   Goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams

4.   Away goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams

5.   If more than two teams are tied, and after applying all head-to-head criteria above, a subset of teams were still tied, all head-to-head criteria above were reapplied exclusively to this subset of teams

6.   Goal difference in all group matches

7.   Goals scored in all group matches

8.   Away goals scored in all group matches

9.   Drawing of lots

What about African Nations Championships?

In the group stage of African Nations Championships, teams are ranked according to points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss), and if tied on points, the following tiebreaking criteria are applied, in the order given, to determine the rankings (Regulations Article 74):

1.   Points in head-to-head matches among tied teams

2.   Goal difference in head-to-head matches among tied teams

3.   Goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams

4.   If more than two teams are tied, and after applying all head-to-head criteria above, a subset of teams are still tied, all head-to-head criteria above are reapplied exclusively to this subset of teams

5.   Goal difference in all group matches

6.   Goals scored in all group matches

7.   Drawing of lots

How does it apply in the Caf Champions League?

The deciding tie-breakers in the Champions League are as follows under order (Regulations III. 20 & 21):

1.   Points in head-to-head matches among tied teams

2.   Goal difference in head-to-head matches among tied teams

3.   Goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams

4.   Away goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams

5.   If more than two teams are tied, and after applying all head-to-head criteria above, a subset of teams are still tied, all head-to-head criteria above are reapplied exclusively to this subset of teams

6.   Goal difference in all group matches

7.   Goals scored in all group matches

8.   Away goals scored in all group matches

9.   Drawing of lots

What about the Confederation Cup?

In the Confederation Cup, teams are also ranked according to points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss).

If tied on points, the following tie-breakers are observed under (Regulations III. 20 & 21):

1.   Points in head-to-head matches among tied teams

2.   Goal difference in head-to-head matches among tied teams

3.   Goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams

4.   Away goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams

5.   If more than two teams are tied, and after applying all head-to-head criteria above, a subset of teams are still tied, all head-to-head criteria above are reapplied exclusively to this subset of teams

6.   Goal difference in all group matches

7.   Goals scored in all group matches

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8.   Away goals scored in all group matches

9.   Drawing of lots

Meanwhile, preliminary rounds of the Caf World Cup qualifiers have also been applying the head-to-head rule and it goes all the way to the late stages.