CAPE TOWN – In the wake of the dramatic, heated storm raging after Friday night’s controversial PSL fixture at the Cape Town Stadium, it was Polokwane City coach Bernard Molekwa who perfectly summed up the situation.
Cape Town City edged Polokwane 1-0 in a game that will be remembered largely for the mistakes and disputed decisions of the match officials, rather than the football.
And a tearful, emotional Molekwa said: “I don’t think they are aware, but it’s these kinds of decisions that cause coaches to lose their jobs. He (the ref) goes home smiling to feed his kids and family, and I will be losing my job.
“If I lose fairly and I am fired, I will understand. I can look in the mirror and say that I have failed. But this… I thought my team played well, we stuck to the game plan, but the referee decided the result.”
The controversy erupted in the 87th minute. During a City attack, Lehlohonolo Majoro gained possession and stabbed the ball into the net, but was flagged for off-side by assistant referee Patrick Jaftha.
Unfortunately, Jaftha had failed to see that Polokwane defender Tshapelo Tshilo had tracked back and was standing on the goal-line, which clearly meant that Majoro was on-side.
Rightly, referee Cedrick Muvhali overruled his assistant and awarded the goal. But the decision resulted in Polokwane’s players and officials surrounding and manhandling Muvhali, questioning his ruling.
Moments later, after consultation with Jaftha, the decision was changed again, the goal was disallowed, and play restarted with a drop-ball.
And then, moments before fulltime, Muvhali was again in the spotlight when he awarded the Cape side a dubious penalty for handball.
Majoro tucked away the spot-kick and City took all three points.
There is no doubt that this fixture, together with the abject performances of the match officials, is going to be the litmus test for the PSL.
How will the ruling body respond? Errors and strange decisions by match officials have long tainted football in South Africa. Surely it’s time for decisive action.
City coach Benni McCarthy, despite coming out on the winning side on Friday, was just as forthright in his response.
Last week, in a 1-0 defeat to Orlando Pirates, the Cape side had a goal disallowed. And on Friday they were again denied a perfectly legitimate goal. It was only because of the late penalty that they were able to come away with the win.
Having graced the football fields of Europe with distinction, McCarthy said he had never come across such refereeing ever in his career. In fact, he admitted:
“It is becoming very difficult to coach in the PSL…
“Let’s put it this way, it took me back to 1998 when Bafana Bafana played Angola, and I had a swing at an Angolan player,” said McCarthy.
“That was how I felt… I was on the pitch, I was going to go for him (the ref). Yes, I was going to be in trouble, but I don’t care, something has to be done to make the PSL aware.
“I said it last week when we had a goal disallowed against Pirates, and I’ll say it again – we want to boast that we have the best league in Africa, we want to be on par with European clubs, but we can’t sort out our business at home, we can’t even get decent referees.
“Players get yellow cards and red cards, and get punished for three games, but refs get away with murder.
“They need to be hurt in their pockets, so they can be more consistent. It’s games like these that cause coaches to lose their jobs, something must be done.”