Pitroipa delighted by Africa Cup final go-ahead
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – Burkina Faso star Jonathan Pitroipa was cleared Friday to play in the Africa Cup of Nations final against Nigeria after a referee who sent him off admitted the decision was incorrect.
“The red card is withdrawn,” CAF secretary general Hicham El Amrani told journalists after the disciplinary commission’s decision.
Pitroipa told AFP that he feared his dream of playing in Sunday’s showpiece had been shattered before the CAF decision.
“I am happy because to take part in this final was my objective,” he said.
“Being red-carded, it was as if my dream was not going to be realised. But to know that I will take to the pitch with my teammates makes me very happy.”
Tunisian Slim Jdidi red carded Pitroipa during the semi-final win over Ghana for wrongly believing he had ‘dived’ and the midfielder would have missed the final this Sunday if the match official had not accepted he made a mistake.
The match official erred in booking the player a second time with three minutes of extra time left last Wednesday and then sending him off.
“Everyone realised that this referee did not officiate well,” CAF president Issa Hayatou told a media breakfast at a plush Johannesburg suburb hotel.
“They have told me the referee has sent a letter saying he got it wrong.
“The referee admitted his error in his report given to the (CAF) secretary general (Hicham El Amrani) — he recognised that he had got it wrong.”
Jdidi’s admission that he made a mistake paved the way for the red card to be rescinded and for Pitroipa to take his place in the Burkina Faso side to face Nigeria at Soccer City stadium in Soweto.
“It is good news for Burkina Faso, for the team and especially for Jonathan because he is a player who did not deserve to be suspended,” Burkina Faso coach Paul Put told AFP.
“He is someone who plays with flair on the pitch and fans love to see players like that. So we are happy that CAF has made the correct decision.”
Pitroipa struck the lone goal in the 1-0 extra-time quarter-final win over Togo and also scored in the earlier 4-0 rout of Ethiopia — the first victory by the Burkinabe at the African football showcase in 19 matches.
The wide, attacking midfielder from French club Rennes has helped lighten the blow of the Burkinabe losing their best striker, Alain Traore, to injury early in the final group game against Zambia.
Jdidi has been suspended for his poor performance in the semi-final, which Burkina Faso won 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 stalemate at Mbombela Stadium in north-eastern city Nelspruit.