- Associated Press - Saturday, October 8, 2011

NELSPRUIT, SOUTH AFRICA (AP) - South Africa’s soccer team did a lap around the stadium and danced in front of cheering fans to celebrate making the African Cup of Nations.

Small problem: South Africa didn’t qualify.

Its 0-0 draw with Sierra Leone left South Africa tied with Niger and Sierra Leone, and ahead on goal differential _ which is usually good enough to advance.

But the Confederation of African Football used head-to-head results among the three teams as a tiebreaker. That sent Niger to the tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and left South Africa out.

“Let’s hear what CAF says,” coach Pitso Mosimane said in a TV interview. “Did we qualify? What do you think? If we’ve qualified I’m very happy.

“I don’t know.”

With Egypt dominating Niger in Cairo, South Africa played defensively in the second half of a scrappy match believing a draw would be sufficient.

Niger lost 3-0, and its players didn’t celebrate, despite making the continental championship for the first time.