Johannesburg – Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter has accused their opponents of cheating and match officials of showing bias towards Congolese outfit AS Vita, after Amakhosi were eliminated from the Caf Champions League.
Baxter's side secured a 2-0 win in the second-leg encounter, despite numerous decisions going the other way, but were knocked out of the competition with a 3-2 defeat on aggregate in the final qualifying round.
While the Chiefs players were involved in a heated debate with on-field officials after the match on Saturday, the crowd at FNB Stadium vented their anger by throwing chairs in the stands.
“It's frustrating on the bench and the field when the team are playing well, they're working really hard, they've got the opponents where they want them, and they're playing against the referee and players who are cheating openly,” Baxter said.
“I have to say I don't like the way it's vented (by the spectators) but some of the decisions and some of the handling of the game was disgraceful.”
The frustration started for the hosts in the fourth minute when Kingston Nkhatha scored. The goal was disallowed after a controversial offside call by one of the linesmen.
Knowledge Musona put Chiefs in front in the ninth minute, but the hosts took knocks on either side of the half-hour mark when goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse and Musona went off injured.
The tension of the fast-paced fixture was raised in first-half injury time when players from both sides were involved in a heated squabble.
The officials did not sanction individuals from either team, despite protests from the Chiefs squad, with some of their players seemingly being slapped by their opposition in an aggressive confrontation.
Displaying tremendous tenacity in the second half, Chiefs were again controversially denied, this time off a penalty, when play was waved on after an apparently blatant handball in the AS Vita box.
Morgan Gould scored a consolation goal in second-half injury time, but it was not enough as Amakhosi were relegated to the Caf Confederation Cup playoffs.
Baxter was furious with AS Vita keeper Herve Lomboto, who wasted time throughout the match, repeatedly feigning injury and lying down on the ball.
“One of the most frustrating things is that we realise we were so much better than the team we were playing,” Baxter said.
“An away goal over there (in the first-leg clash in Kinshasa), or a little more concentration in our defending, and I think we would have had at least three or four this evening, with less pressure on the game.
“But that's the way it goes, and I've just got to congratulate them and take it on the nose.” – Sapa