Recently, South Africa featured in the FIFAe Nations online qualifiers for Middle East and Africa. On the line was two spots for the finals of FIFe Nations in Denmark later this year.
The South African team featured Julio ‘Beast’ Bianchi on PlayStation and Kaylan Moodley on Xbox. After a tough weekend of matches which saw the team finish in second place in the groups, the team unfortunately stumbled in the playoffs. We have a wrap on the result below.
The team got off to a flyer in the group stage of the qualifiers. Julio Bianchi secured a win in match one against one of the scene's greatest players, Saudi Arabia's Msdossary. Saudi Arabia bounced back with a win in the Xbox leg, ensuring both teams ended on three points in the standings after round one.
Round two saw South Africa up against United Arab Emirates (UAE). The PlayStation leg saw the countries end in a draw, and securing a point each. However, Kaylan Moodley came flying out in his match. He demolished his opponent 7-0 to secure three key points in the standings.
Round three ended day one. South Africa faced off against Qatar and ended up with matching results to their UAE series. Bianchi secured a draw and one point, while Moodley secured three points in a tight 3-2 victory against his opponent.
The start of day two saw South Africa sitting in second place behind India. And it just so happened that the first match of the day would see the two teams facing off.
As with the previous two rounds, South Africa again secured a draw and a victory in their two matches. While this secured a total of four points to their standings, Saudi Arabia and Qatar added six points each and the top four spots became highly contested with a round to play.
South Africa simply needed to secure points in their fifth and final group stage matches to proceed into the four-team playoff. And the South Africans did just that with Moodley securing three points for the team.
Thanks to their seeding in second place, South Africa avoided the Saudi Arabian team in round one. Qatar stood in the way of the simplest route to the final in the double elimination bracket. However, it was not to be. South Africa lost two matches in the best of three series, after taking the first match.
Saudi Arabia joined the South Africans in the Losers Bracket after a surprisingly one-sided defeat to India. The loss probably fired up the Saudi Arabian team, as they secured two relatively comfortable (4-1 and 3-1) victories over the South Africans.
The South Africans lost however to the qualifiers eventual winners Saudi Arabia, who beat Qatar twice in the finals to take the top spot. Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar secured spots to compete in Denmark this August.
South Africa's run in the 2021 FIFAe Nations qualifiers saw the team put up a real fight, and perhaps given a slightly more level playing field (ping, there is always ping to consider...), they may have gone even further. But the team made the supporters proud and made a number of other nations take notice. Roll on 2022 and perhaps a chance to compete in a LAN environment post COVID...