DESPITE having reservations about decisions made by referees in the last two Castle Lager Premier Soccer League games, Highlanders coach Baltemar Brito has shouldered the blame for the points dropped by the Bulawayo giants.
Highlanders travelled to Rusape a fortnight ago and drew 1-1 with Cranborne Bullets before losing 3-2 to log leaders FC Platinum on Sunday at Barbourfields Stadium.
The FC Platinum defeat was Brito’s second in 12 games in which he has won six and drawn four, picking up 22 points, the second highest points collected since the Portuguese national arrived at Bosso.
Brito says the club is in possession of video evidence that some decisions made by referee Lawrence Zimhondi in the game against Cranborne Bullets and decisions made by Mhaka Magare in the FC Platinum match were not fair.
He was, however, quick to say match officials make errors and he takes full responsibility for his team’s performance.
He said the penalty awarded to Cranborne Bullets at Vengere was questionable and his striker Lynoth Chikuhwa was elbowed inside the box in the FC Platinum match, but no whistle sounded only for the visitors to be awarded a free-kick a few minutes later that resulted in the winner.
“We have not spoken much about the referees since we arrived, but in the game against Cranborne, we had a penalty that we can confirm by image that it was not a penalty and in this last game when we were at 2-2, with a lot of effort from our players (Gift) Bello elbowed Lynoth (Chikuhwa) in the box,” Brito said.
He added: “That was supposed to be a penalty because we can prove that with the image but the referee did not blow. And the ball goes to our midfield, Peter (Muduhwa) did not make any foul and we can also prove that by image and the referee blows for a free-kick and after that it is 3-2.
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“We want to be in the top four, but I don’t know why people are pushing Highlanders out of the top four. It is our opinion. The fault is ours the coaches, it’s not the players’ fault; it’s not the referees’ fault, but we can prove by image that in the last two games we should have got more than five points.”
In the FC Platinum game, Brito said it was his personal decision that cost them and he could not solely blame anyone for the loss.
“The main responsibility belongs to us (coaches) of course. Our strategy in the first half of the FC Platinum game, I spoke to my assistants and we agreed on our game plan in the Cranborne Bullets game but I took a risk and made my own decision. It was my mistake, not the mistake of the referees or anyone in the first half. I am here to say sorry about that but sometimes we need to make decisions,” he said.
He said the second half was amazing and they could have won if a penalty call was made against FC Platinum, but that was not to be.
“We are not saying anything to create a war between us and the referees. If we say it was our mistake maybe then to grow they should understand and they should learn by the games that they handle but mistakes make part of the game but if anyone wants to improve the football in Zimbabwe, they also should analyse the game,” Brito said.
Highlanders are away to Chicken Inn at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
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