Time for PSL to start hit­ting er­rant of­fi­cials‘where it hurts’

The Sunday Independent - - SOCCER - ROD­NEY REINERS

CAPE TOWN: In the wake of the dra­matic, heated storm rag­ing af­ter Fri­day night’s con­tro­ver­sial PSL fix­ture at the Cape Town Sta­dium, it was Polok­wane City coach Bernard Molekwa who per­fectly summed up the sit­u­a­tion.

Cape Town City edged Polok­wane 1-0 in a game that will be re­mem­bered largely for the mis­takes and dis­puted de­ci­sions of the match of­fi­cials, rather than the foot­ball.

A tear­ful, emo­tional Molekwa said: “I don’t think they are aware but it’s these are the kinds of de­ci­sions that cause coaches to lose their jobs. He (the ref) goes home smil­ing to feed his kids and fam­ily, and I will be los­ing my job.

“If I lose fairly and I am fired, I will un­der­stand. I can look in the mir­ror and say that I have failed. But this… I thought my team played well, we stuck to the game plan, but the ref­eree de­cided the re­sult.”

The con­tro­versy erupted in the 87th minute. Dur­ing a City at­tack, Lehlo­honolo Ma­joro gained pos­ses­sion and stabbed the ball into the net, but was flagged for off-side by as­sis­tant-ref­eree Pa­trick Jaftha. Un­for­tu­nately, Jaftha had failed to see that Polok­wane de­fender Tshapelo Tshilo had tracked back and was stand­ing on the goal-line, which clearly meant that Ma­joro was on-side.

Rightly, ref­eree Cedrick Mu­vhali over-ruled his as­sis­tant and awarded the goal, but the de­ci­sion re­sulted in Polok­wane’s players and of­fi­cials sur­round­ing and man­han­dling Mu­vhali, ques­tion­ing his rul­ing.

Mo­ments later, af­ter con­sul­ta­tion with Jaftha, the de­ci­sion was changed again, the goal dis­al­lowed, and play restarted with a drop-ball.

Then, just be­fore full-time, Mu­vhali was again in the spot­light when he awarded the Cape side a du­bi­ous penalty for hand­ball. Ma­joro tucked away the spot-kick and City took all three points. There’s no doubt this fix­ture, to­gether with the ab­ject per­for­mances of the match of­fi­cials, is go­ing to be the lit­mus test for the PSL. How will they re­spond? Er­rors and strange de­ci­sions by match of­fi­cials have long tainted foot­ball in South Africa. Surely it’s time for de­ci­sive ac­tion. City coach Benni McCarthy, pic­tured, de­spite com­ing out on the win­ning side, was just as forth­right in his re­sponse.

Last week, in a 1-0 de­feat to Or­lando Pi­rates, the Cape side had a goal dis­al­lowed, and on Fri­day they were again de­nied a per­fectly le­git­i­mate goal. It was only be­cause of the late penalty that they were able to come away with the win.

Hav­ing graced the foot­ball fields of Europe with dis­tinc­tion, McCarthy said he had never come across such ref­er­ee­ing ever in his ca­reer. In fact, he ad­mit­ted: “It is be­com­ing very dif­fi­cult to coach in the PSL…

“Let’s put it this way: It took me back to 1998 when Bafana Bafana played An­gola and I had a swing at an An­golan player,” said McCarthy.

“That was how I felt… I was on the pitch, I was go­ing to go for him (the ref). Yes, I was go­ing to be in trou­ble, but I don’t care, some­thing has to be done to make the PSL aware.

“I said it last week when we had a goal dis­al­lowed against Pi­rates, and I’ll say it again: we want to boast that we have the best league in Africa, we want to be on par with Euro­pean clubs, but we can’t sort out our busi­ness at home, we can’t even get de­cent ref­er­ees.

“Players get yel­low cards and red cards and get pun­ished for three games, but refs get away with mur­der. They need to be hurt in their pock­ets so they can be more con­sis­tent. It’s games like this that cause coaches to lose their jobs. Some­thing must be done.”

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