Cape Verde – an archipelago of 10 islands in the central Atlantic Ocean, 350 miles off the coast of western Africa – thought they had advanced to the final qualifying round by defeating Tunisia 2-0 in Rades on Saturday to win the group. The tiny nation would have entered the 10-team play-offs that decide Africa's five representatives in Brazil next year.
Fifa says its disciplinary committee decided that Fernando Varela should have been serving a suspension. Tunisia, who will now enter the play-off draw on Monday, complained to the world game's ruling body.
Cape Verde, which has a population of half a million, has never qualified for a World Cup and has the right of appeal.