Sent pack­ing:

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Petros Kausiyo in SUN CITY, South Africa

BLUN­DER­ING Botswana ref­eree Joshua Bondo has paid a huge price for his di­a­bol­i­cal of­fi­ci­at­ing in the COSAFA Cas­tle Cup clash be­tween Zim­babwe and Mada­gas­car, with the match of­fi­cial be­ing ex­pelled from the re­gional tour­na­ment for poor per­for­mance.

Bondo re­ceived wide­spread con­dem­na­tion for his shock­ing de­ci­sion to turn down two ap­peals for penal­ties from the War­riors, late in the match, when on both oc­ca­sions Zim­babwe should have been given two spot-kicks against Mada­gas­car on Wed­nes­day night.

COSAFA, who have a zero tol­er­ance on bad of­fi­ci­at­ing, yes­ter­day wielded the axe on Bondo af­ter re­view­ing the ref­eree’s pa­thetic per­for­mance which marred the Group B topof-the-ta­ble clash be­tween the War­riors and Mada­gas­car that even­tu­ally ended 0-0.

Bondo was duly crit­i­cised across the

COSAFA re­gion, and on the con­ti­nent, for his poor show and the re­gional body’s ref­eree’s com­mit­tee that has been trying to use the tour­na­ment to de­velop match of­fi­cials from South­ern Africa stuck to their prin­ci­ple and de­cided to send him home.

Iron­i­cally, Bondo had been touted as one of the best of the emerg­ing crop of ref­er­ees in the re­gion and han­dled matches on a big­ger scale such as the 2016 CHAN fi­nals in Rwanda, the CAF Un­der-20 cham­pi­onships in Zam­bia and the 2017 African Cup of Na­tions in Gabon. He also re­ceived rave re­views along the way. But on a cold Wed­nes­day even­ing at Royal Bafo­keng Sports Palace, Bondo hogged the lime­light for the wrong rea­sons and shamed him­self in the clash be­tween the War­riors and Mada­gas­car.

It was in the de­ci­sive mo­ments of the game that Bondo was found want­ing and drew the ire of the War­riors camp af­ter twice deny­ing them le­git­i­mate penalty calls in a five-minute spell of mad­ness.

Bondo had the War­riors play­ers and their bench up in arms af­ter he first de­nied them a penalty af­ter sub­sti­tute for­ward Raphael Manu­vire was hacked down in the box.

The 39-year-old of­fi­cial also robbed Zim­babwe of an op­por­tu­nity to score from the penalty spot when he waved away ap­peals for a pro­fes­sional foul on skipper Ovidy Karuru by goal­keeper Jean Ran­dri­ana­solo.

Although COSAFA were yet to is­sue an of­fi­cial state­ment on the fate of the ref­eree, The

Her­ald can re­veal that, just like Zim­bab­wean of­fi­cial Ruzive Ruzive in 2015, Bondo has been shown the red card.

“COSAFA have al­ways main­tained zero tol­er­ance on poor per­for­mance. Inas­much as he is a top ref­eree, it is also dis­ap­point­ing that he failed to live up to ex­pec­ta­tions and he is be­ing seen home based on his per­for­mance,’’ sources close to the re­gional body said.

Harare ref­eree Ruzive was also sent pack­ing at the 2015 tour­na­ment in South Africa and, iron­i­cally, af­ter hand­ing Mada­gas­car a life­line with some con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sions in their match against Swazi­land.

That Group B de­cider en­sured it was Mada­gas­car who ad­vanced af­ter they had scored one goal more than Swazi­land as the match ended in a 1-1.

Should Mada­gas­car ad­vance into the quar­ter-fi­nals to­day at the ex­pense of the War­riors, Sun­day Chidzambwa and his men, just like Swazi­land in 2015, could point to the ref­eree as hav­ing de­cided their fate.

Chidzambwa was dis­ap­pointed by the bad of­fi­ci­at­ing yes­ter­day and said it was time for his charges to turn their at­ten­tion to their final Group B game against win­less Sey­chelles which they need to win to re­main on pole po­si­tion.

Chidzambwa chal­lenged his play­ers to take the “right ap­proach to the game’’.

Sey­chelles were elim­i­nated fol­low­ing their 2-1 de­feat by Mozam­bique with vic­tory giv­ing the Mam­bas slim hopes of qual­i­fy­ing as they lie third and with three points, one be­hind Zim­babwe and Mada­gas­car.

Chidzambwa said while it ap­peared an easy game on paper, the War­riors could eas­ily make life dif­fi­cult for them­selves if they took a com­pla­cent ap­proach against the group whip­ping boys.

In their last COSAFA meet­ing in Namibia last year, the War­riors thrashed Sey­chelles 5-0 but the vic­tory was not good enough to help Cal­listo Pa­suwa’s men fin­ish top of the

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group as Swazi­land edged them for a quar­ter-final place.

Chidzambwa, who re­vealed he would reshuf­fle his side to­day, does not want the War­riors to take any chance against Sey­chelles.

“It can be dif­fi­cult to play a team that is play­ing for pride, but some­times it can be easy. It is up to us to have the right at­ti­tude.

“I think the Sey­chelles game won’t be a pushover.

“We have to fight hard and we can’t af­ford to be com­pla­cent,’’ Chidzambwa said.

Chidzambwa, who is yet to lose a COSAFA Cas­tle Cup match, was also not happy with the man­ner in which his charges lost pos­ses­sion and lacked imag­i­na­tion in the final third.

“Yes­ter­day (Wed­nes­day) we didn’t cre­ate many clear-cut chances and that is one area that we have been work­ing to ad­dress.

“Mada­gas­car were also very or­gan­ised and they are good in mid­field . . . they kept pos­ses­sion well.

“They have been play­ing to­gether for a long time both in the na­tional team and at club level. They have seven play­ers from one club who started that match.

“But we were los­ing the ball far too eas­ily when go­ing for­ward and also we didn’t get into the right scor­ing po­si­tions to make use of the crosses that came into the box,’’ Chidzambwa said.

The ZPC Kariba coach said Black Rhi­nos right back Jame­son Mukombwe had been ruled out of to­day’s game af­ter pick­ing an in­jury in the 44th minute of Wed­nes­day’s tie.

“Jame­son is out, he suf­fered a ham­string in­jury and we will now have to reshuf­fle our de­fence.

“We also need to look at the guys who have not played any game here and give them a chance,’’ Chidzambwa said.

With the vet­eran coach hint­ing at changes, High­landers striker Prince Dube, Rhi­nos de­fender Bruce Homora and Kaizer Chiefs’ Michelle Katsvairo could be handed starts.

Ngezi Plat­inum goal­keeper Tak­abva Mawaya could also get his chance.

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