Safa CEO Tebogo Motlanthe confirmed that, even in the event Zimbabwe do not manage to resolve their issues and are banned, that would not mean Bafana's entry to Cameroon 2021.
“First of all I would say don't get ahead of yourself because Zimbabwe might still resolve their issues,” Motlanthe said.
“But, yes, you are reading the rule correctly, so even if Zimbabwe were banned there would be no path for Bafana to still qualify.
“I think people were just getting excited because Caf sometimes has the format in qualifying where the best runner-up or third-place team sometimes can qualify.”
Article 86 of the regulations for the 2021 Nations Cup states: “If a team withdraws after its qualification in the final tournament, but before its actual start, it shall be replaced by the team classified next in the group of the team in question. In default, the group to which belongs the forfeiting team shall be composed of three teams.”
What that translates to is that if Zimbabwe were removed, Guinea, currently the third-ranked side in Group B, would move up to occupy Zimbabwe's current second ranking. The group would then become a three-team contest, involving top-ranked Senegal, Guinea in second and Malawi, who would move up from fourth to third.