CAPE TOWN – City boss John Comitis is on the warpath. On Tuesday, after a 2-0 home defeat to Bidvest Wits, and after yet another refereeing decision hurt his club, the football administrator couldn’t contain his anger.
The incident occurred in the seventh minute when City’s Dutch goalkeeper Peter Leeuwenburgh was adjudged by the match official to have fouled Wits’ Scottish striker Simon Murray. But there was no contact: it was clear to see from the stands and television replays confirmed this.
Leeuwenburgh appealed to the referee, who remained adamant and handed the keeper a yellow card too. Wits scored from the resultant penalty and then cruised to a comfortable victory.
For Comitis, the fact that his club regularly bears the brunt of some bad refereeing decisions is a concern. A few weeks ago, against Free State Stars, midfielder Roland Putsche was the victim of a brutal tackle but, bizarrely he got booked and the opponent got off scot-free.
Those are just two decisions - there have been more - and anger with the performances of referees have been a constant moan for both Comitis and head coach Benni McCarthy all season.
“I am livid,” said Comitis after Tuesday’s defeat. “This can’t go on any longer; something has to be done about it. After winning the MTN8, we charged supporters just R10 entry fee - and they came in their numbers. We had about 12 000 people on a cold, chilly Cape Town evening and the referee comes along to spoil it all. It was clearly no penalty, anybody could see that, but the referee didn’t.
The PSL are always going on about Benni’s comments about referees in South Africa, but what else can he do when we regularly get poor decisions like that?”
McCarthy was more concerned about the lacklustre display his team turned in after the MTN8 success. He was honest about his own role in the defeat. The City coach made eight changes to the team that started the final - and the decision had an obvious effect on the team’s fluency.
“I have to apologise to the fans,” said McCarthy, “because we were just not up to it on the night. I appreciate their love and support and I was disappointed that the team turned in such an average, disappointing performance.
“I can’t make excuses. We were just not at the races today. I’m not sure if it was the high of winning the cup or just reality sinking in. We made mistakes and Wits punished us. They were there, they had come to play, and they were first to everything. They just wanted it more. They got the 2-0 lead and then they shut up shop - and it didn’t matter what we did we weren’t going to trouble them.
“For me, I will probably have to look in the mirror because changing the team completely backfired on me. Maybe I was a bit naïve to make so many changes and expect the same level of performance. In hindsight, perhaps I should have trusted my gut and played with more or less the same team as in the cup final.”
According to McCarthy, Wits deserved the victory, and he added that his mentor - Gavin Hunt (Wits coach) - had got the tactics spot-on.