Senegal has qualified for the 2018 World Cup, and no one can say they aren’t deserving. They were clearly the best team in CAF Group D, going undefeated over five games. But one of the teams that they’ve qualified at the expense of — South Africa — couldn’t have had worse luck.
South Africa defeated Senegal in Nov. 2016, but that result stood for only 10 months. As it turns out, the referee was trying to fix the match to South Africa’s benefit, completely unbeknown to Bafana Bafana. Because the referee manipulated the match, but neither team was involved in fixing it, FIFA took away South Africa’s three points and ordered the game to be replayed.
That replay happened on Friday, and it went poorly for South Africa, with Senegal winning 2-0. Sadio Mané set up Diafra Sakho for a beautiful first goal, and Mané was involved in the second as well. But the second wasn’t scored by Senegal. It was an unlucky, demoralizing gut-punch of an own goal:
This is how South Africa was eliminated from World Cup qualification. They had a win taken away from them despite doing nothing wrong, then had this own goal happen to them during the rematch. International soccer is cruel.