MIGHTY Warriors coach, Shadreck Mlauzi has become the latest figure to allege a Confederation of African Football (Caf) conspiracy to undermine Southern African football, expressing his disgust at the manner in which match officials handled his side’s game against Egypt on Tuesday night at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjio in Cameroon, which left Zimbabwe on the brink of African Women Cup of Nations elimination.
BY HENRY MHARA IN YAOUNDE, CAMEROON
The outspoken gaffer alleged Caf had a hand in the robbery in a bid to help Egypt through.
Mlauzi’s side were defeated 1-0 by the North Africans, but in the most controversial of circumstances after an inconsistent Burundian referee, Suavis Iratunga disallowed what looked like a genuine goal that would have seen Zimbabwe get back to level terms almost immediately after Egypt had scored.
After Salma Ahmed had given Egypt an 83rd minute lead, the Mighty Warriors looked to have levelled matters straight from the restart when substitute Felistas Muzongondi poked home from a cross on the right.
Iratunga initially pointed to the centre to signal a goal, but as the Zimbabwean players were still celebrating, she bizarrely changed her decision to award Egypt a free kick for a foul on goalkeeper Maha Shehata after consultations with the assistant referee.
Television replays, however, showed the Egytian goalie went down untouched and well after the ball had hit the back of the net.
The decision incensed Mlauzi, who could be seen gesturing to the fourth officials, with his sympathisers booing Iratunga.
In his post-match comments, the Mighty Warriors gaffer had no kind words for the referee, whom he accused of bias.
Mlauzi even suggested a conspiracy by Caf to propel certain teams at this tournament at the expense of others.
“The match referee had a hand in the outcome of the match. Every 50-50 situation was adjudged a foul on my players.
It appeared every decision went the way of Egypt and it kept frustrating the players,” he said.
“The referee signalled for a goal and then decided against it. I didn’t see any infringement on the goalkeeper or any offside. It’s these kind of decisions that keeps African football stagnant where certain underserving teams qualify to the next stage just because they are from North Africa. When this happens regularly and no punishment is given to the referees, it becomes very worrying.”
While Mlauzi feels the referee was out of sorts, he believes his team could have avoided the drama by converting their chances.
Rutendo Makore, Kudakwashe Bhasopo and Mavis Chirandu all missed good opportunities for Zimbabwe in a match they largely dominated.
“We should have done better. We were in control, we played the way we wanted, but our finishing was not clinical.
We had wanted an early goal so the more the game progressed, the more they grew in confidence and the more we became frustrated and desperate.”
The defeat left the Migthy Warriors third in Group A log standings, with a single point and on the brink of elimination from the tournament.
For them to have a chance to progress to the semi-finals, they now need to beat hosts and already qualified Cameroon by a wide margin tomorrow and hope that group anchors South Africa, also on one point, win with a narrow margin against Egypt.
Cameroon are on six points and through to the next stage after their opening two wins against Egypt and South Africa.
The two last group matches will be played concurrently.