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African teams could receive World Cup lifeline
World Cup qualifying in Africa may be blown wide open, as both Togo and Ethiopia have admitted to fielding ineligible players.
It is thought likely that FIFA will dock three points from either team found guilty, which would hand countries such as South Africa a qualification lifeline.
BBC Sport were told yesterday, by the president of the Ethiopian Football Federation, Sahilu Gebremariam, that midfielder Minyahil Teshome Beyene should not have played in their 2-1 victory over Botswana, having picked up two yellow cards in previous qualifiying games.
"We're not going to appeal, it's a management blunder," said Gebremariam.
"We have accepted the FIFA discipline issue," he added.
As qualifying stands in Africa, there are 10 second round groups, each with one more set of games to play.
Only the group winners will progress to the two-legged play-offs which will ultimately decide who goes to Brazil next year.
Ethiopia currently have an unassailable five point lead in their group, however should they lose their three points, Botswana will gain them, which would put both them and South Africa back in contention.
Hours after the revelation, BBC Sport were told by Togolese football federation member Toussa Komi Gabriel, that Alaixys Romao should not have featured in their 2-0 triumph over Cameroon earlier this month.
"It's true that the Togolese team didn't find out if the player was qualified (to play) before using him," said Komi.
Should Togo's points be given to Cameroon, the Indomitable Lions would move one point clear of Libya at the top of their group. It would also put an end to the hopes of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Equatorial Guinea also have a case pending against them for fielding players imported from Brazil and Colombia, but they are already too far behind Egypt for any sanction to effect the outcome of their group.
These cases are not the first of their kind in the African qualifiers though.
Already, Sudan have lost three points due to fielding a suspended player. That has resulted in Ghana going into the last day of qualifying just a point ahead of Zambia, who were the beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, Burkina Faso and Gabon lost points due to fielding players of Cameroonian origin. That has opened the door for Congo, who top their group, a point ahead of Burkina Faso and three ahead of Gabon.
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