BY FORTUNE MBELE
This was billed to be an exciting contest featuring two of the country’s biggest teams, Highlanders and Caps United, but in the end, despite all the entertainment on the field of play, referee Thabani Bamala stole the limelight.
Two penalty appeals shot down in either half and a disallowed goal on the stroke of full time for the visitors saw the post-match narrative of this otherwise exciting Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday centering on match officials.
Caps midfielder Joel Ngodzo fired a cracker just before the final whistle and goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda made a brilliant save and an alert Dominic Chungwa pushed the ball into the nets from a rebound, but alas second assistant referee Wirimai Muroiwa had his flag up and that goal could not stand.
That incident was a point of debate among the spectators and the Caps players crowded around referee Bamala after he blew the whistle to end the game.
But Fifa rule 11 partly explains the scenario that led to Muroiwa raising his flag after the Ngodzo’s thunderbolt.
“Gaining an advantage by being in that position means playing a ball; (1) that rebounds or is deflected to him off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent having been in an offside position; (2) that rebounds, is deflected or is played to him from a deliberate save by an opponent having been in an offside position. A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent, who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save), is not considered to have gained an advantage,” rule 11 reads.
A penalty appeal was made on the 6th minute when Highlanders defender Peter Muduhwa appeared to have handled inside the box and another in the 62nd minute when Valentine Ndaba was brought down inside the box, but both calls were ignored by Bamala.
Caps coach Lloyd Chitembwe said he thought his team should have been awarded at least one penalty.
“For me, those are two points dropped. According to the laws of the game that the same referees teach us, I thought that was a push (on Ndaba) inside the box and if it is inside the box, it’s a direct kick and that kick is a penalty. This is the interpretation that we get from these referees,” Chitembwe observed. “From the angle where I was, I thought that was a push and at the same time I am not in a good position to comment about the disallowed goal, but if indeed Dominic came from inside going outside it should have counted as a goal, but unfortunately it’s not for me to make those decisions and it’s disappointing that those situations could have turned the match into our favour.”
Highlanders dominated the first half with striker Prince Dube the unluckiest man of the day, hitting the upright twice in the first half on the 13th and 31st minute, while Caps defended well with Method Mwanjali in good form.
Caps had their chances in the second half, but could not convert.
Highlanders technical manager Madinda Ndlovu rued the missed chances.
“It was a very exciting game with a lot of mixed moments for either side. I was satisfied with the outcome,” Ndlovu said.
Highlanders: A Sibanda, M Phiri, M Ndlovu, T Ndlovu, P Muduhwa, N Masuku, T Makanda, B Musaka, P Ndlovu, Mbekezeli Sibanda (G Makaruse 58′) D Mhindiriri (B Banda 77′)
Caps United: P Chigumba, V Musarurwa, V Ndaba, G Goriyati, M Mwanjale, B Sarupinda (K Nyamupfukudza 27′), P Bamusi, J Ngodzo, G Nyoni, J Zhuwawu, D Chungwa