Brain freeze hits refs

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Zolile_Mthetho Gallo Images Zolile Mthetho gifted Orlando Pirates an undeserved penalty.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. Well, that will never happen here in SA, given the seasons and the way they roll. The closest I’m going to get to a white Christmas over here is if I stumble face first into a cocaine den. Or if I hump a bag of flour. And I’ve never done either, I solemnly promise.

We did all get a white August on Tuesday, mind you, as a rare winter snow lay its delicate soul over Johannesburg. It was awesome to see people rushing to the window to watch the falling flakes.

A snowball fight even broke out outside the third floor canteen at Independent Newspapers Gauteng, I am reliably informed. I was thinking about giving sports minister Fikile Mbulula a call and suggesting he leaps swiftly on to the bandwagon and enters Jozi as a candidate for the next Winter Olympics. Not that our Fikile ever leaps on to bandwagons. At all. Ever.

Tuesday’s icy conditions did not signal the first time that a chill ran down my spine in the last few days. The other chill was more metaphorical, at the sight of the refereeing performances I witnessed in this weekend’s MTN8 quarter-finals.

The cold, of course, was famously and hilariously blamed for several referees failing SA Football Association fitness tests at the end of July. Well, this weekend, the freeze appeared to have entered the minds of a couple of officials, as they made some shocking decisions.

Zolile Mthetho, with about 10 minutes to go in the Orlando Pirates-Bloemfontein Celtic quarter-final on Friday night, decided to give the Buccaneers a penalty as the ball rolled gently on to Celtic midfielder Kurt Lentjies’ arm.

It was a plainly ridiculous decision, as Lentjies’ arm in no way moved to obstruct the path of the ball, and Celtic coach Clinton Larsen had every right to be upset as Phunya Sele Sele exited the competition.

Then, in the AmaZulu-Moroka Swallows game on Sunday, came the turn of Khulasande Qongco. According to Qongco, the application of Kagiso Senamela’s boot to Lerato Chabangu’s head warranted only a yellow card.

Then, before the first half was out, he failed to give clear spot-kicks to both Moroka Swallows and AmaZulu.

The failed fitness tests, couple with this weekend’s efforts, do not exactly fill me with confidence over the refereeing performances for the coming season. In fact, I would venture to suggest that there is actually more chance of the Winter Olympics coming to Johannesburg than an acceptable level of officiating hitting these shores any time soon. – The Star

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