Namibia appeal rejected by CAS
Burkina Faso kept its place at the African Cup of Nations after sport's highest court dismissed an appeal by Namibia over an ineligible player on Tuesday.
The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport said it confirmed the Confederation of African Football's decision in November to reject Namibia's appeal over the eligibility of Cameroon-born defender Herve Zengue.
Namibia wanted to replace Burkina Faso at the Jan. 21-Feb. 12 Cup of Nations after losing out to the Burkinabes in qualifying last year, arguing Zengue was not eligible to play for his adopted country.
The Namibia Football Association had twice protested to CAF over Zengue's presence in Burkina Faso's team.
After Africa's ruling body rejected both of those appeals, Namibia's FA was hopeful that CAS would find in its favor. It said it was ''dismayed'' at the latest ruling.
The case - which was heard on Friday - needed to be resolved quickly with the Cup of Nations kicking off in two weeks.
''We are disappointed and we don't know how they (CAS) have reached this decision to dismiss our case but we will accept the decision and move on and plan forward,'' said NFA secretary general Barry Rukoro, who attended the hearing in Lausanne.
Namibia said Zengue, who was married to a woman from Burkina Faso, still did not meet FIFA criteria to play for his adopted country.
But in its finding, CAS said Zengue moved to Burkina Faso in 1994, was issued with a nationality certificate in 2006 and received a Burkinabe passport on March 25, 2011 - a day before he played in the first of two qualifying victories over Namibia.
Ironically, despite being cleared, Terek Grozny defender Zengue was set to miss the tournament after not being included in Burkina Faso's initial tournament squad.
Burkina Faso's federation welcomed the CAS decision as ''very good news'' and said it was free to focus on its preparations for the 16-team African Cup.
''(The decision) will allow us to better prepare for the competition,'' federation secretary general Emmanuel Zombre told The Associated Press. ''Players and staff were beginning to be affected by ongoing references to the case.''
Zengue was not in the Burkinabe squad announced last month because of injury, the country's sports minister said. Burkina Faso also excluded another foreign-born player from coach Paulo Duarte's 25-man training group, conceding there were problems with Ivory Coast-born defender Stephane Agbre's eligibility.
A final 23-man list for the tournament needs to be submitted to CAF by Wednesday.
Burkina Faso was drawn in Group B at the tournament alongside favorite Ivory Coast, Angola and Sudan.
CAF said in its statement that Tuesday's decision also ordered the Namibia FA to pay 5,000 Swiss francs ($5,275) toward its legal fees plus other costs for the CAS hearing.
Namibia FA president John Muinjo expressed his frustration at the decision, which he felt was unfair.
''We must stop playing football if we can't abide by its rules,'' Muinjo said.
On the legal costs, Muinjo added: ''This is an eventuality that we did not budget for but ... as a law-abiding nation, we will have to pay.''
Associated Press writer Brahima Ouedraogo in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso contributed to this report.