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Burkinabe cleared to play as Namibia appeal fails
Burkina Faso have been cleared to play in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations after a legal bid by Namibia to have them disqualified failed, African football's governing body CAF said on Tuesday.
Namibia claimed Cameroon-born left-back Herve Zengue was ineligible to play against them in the qualifying competition and after two appeals to CAF failed, they took their case to the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
But a statement on the CAF website said the move to overturn the decision of its appeal board was dismissed with costs and Namibia must also contribute toward the legal costs incurred by the African body.
The Cup of Nations will be staged in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea between January 21 and February 12 and Burkina Faso are in Malabo-based Group B with Ivory Coast, Angola and Sudan.
Namibia, who have appeared at the Cup of Nations twice, were so confident of winning the CAS appeal and replacing the Burkinabe that they called up players for a training camp and played a pre-Christmas friendly in Angola.
Zengue is based in Chechnya with Russian top-tier club Terek Grozny and carries a Burkina Faso passport after marrying a native of that country, but Namibia insisted this did not entitle him to play against them.
They cited FIFA regulations that state if a player wishes to play for a country other than that of his birth, a parent or grandparent must come from there or he must have been a continuous resident for at least five years.
Burkina Faso coach Paulo Duarte did not include Zengue in his provisional squad for the biennial African tournament, although he could change his mind ahead of the midnight January 10 deadline.
The CAS verdict came as a relief to the Burkinabe 'Stallions', with France-based midfielder Jonathan Pitroipa admitting recently that "waiting for the decision had a destabilising effect on the squad".
"It is normal that Namibia should want to qualify from this administrative basis, but I believe they have seen we are stronger on the pitch," added the 25-year-old Rennes star.
Burkina Faso walloped Namibia 4-0 in Ouagadougou and 4-1 in Windhoek and defeated Gambia at home and drew away to finish convincing winners of their three-nation qualifying group.
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