A series of horror refereeing decisions ensured a that pedestrian Premier Soccer League game between Cape Town City and Polokwane City on Friday night catapulted into a bizarre finish.
This prompted another round of criticism of match officials from Benni McCarthy and a tormented cry of despair from his opposite number Bernard Molekwa‚ who fears he will lose his job after a 1-0 defeat.
At the centre of the drama was referee Cedric Muvhali and assistant referee Patrick Jafta‚ who made a basic mistake late in the game when he flagged Lehlohonolo Majoro offside as the ball fell to him in an easy scoring position.
The linesman failed to see Polokwane City skipper Thapelo Tshilo on his own goal line‚ behind goalkeeper Harold Ndlovu and therefore playing Majoro onside.
Muvhali blew his whistle for the offside but Majoro pointed out the mistake while continuing to play on and put the ball in the net.
At first the referee awarded the offside then changed his mind and gave a goal. He was then ÷pushed and shoved by Polokwane City players and officials in scenes that demand retrospective action from the league.
After a delay of several minutes Muvhali changed his mind again and gave a drop ball‚ to the puzzlement and fury of the Cape Town City players.
McCarthy almost came to blows with his opposite number in a fracas on the touchline. It was almost inevitable in the eight minutes of stoppage time that followed‚ that Muvhali would seek to redress the error.
When the ball brushed across the chest‚ and close to the arm‚ of Salulani Phiri right at the death‚ he awarded a penalty that Majoro converted for a three-point haul.
“It was never a penalty. The decisions were no good‚” said Molekwa afterwards‚ looking as if he was ready to burst into tears from pure frustration.
“They (the officials) are not aware that these kind of decisions cost the coach’s job. They’ll be going home smiling‚ feeding their kids and his family but I’ll be losing my job.
“If we had lost the game fairly and I’d lost my job I’d go the mirror and say ‘fine‚ I fail’. But if someone else impacts on you like this‚ that is no good at all.”
After four successive defeats‚ Molekwa is in real danger of joining the growing list of PSL coaching casualties.
“I know I’m going to be in trouble but who cares because we need to create awareness and change things‚” added McCarthy in a preamble to complaining about the officiating.
“We boast our league is the best in Africa and we are on par with European leagues but we can’t sort our business out at home‚ get decent referees.
“Players get yellow cards but referees get away with murder. It must come out of their pockets.
“Bad refereeing in games like this could cost coaches their jobs. I’m not just lashing out. I was on the winning side. Can you imagine if I had lost?
“But I felt in the week against (Orlando) Pirates we were robbed of a point because of bad refereeing and today almost the same.”