Owen Da Gama was not happy with the way his team lost to Orlando Pirates. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Owen da Gama was so incensed by the manner in which Highlands Park lost to Orlando Pirates on Tuesday night he went as far as to call for the imprisonment of second assistant referee Buyisile Ngqambiyana.

The official failed to flag Tshegofatso Mabasa who was offside when Linda Mntambo played the ball to the striker. The late goal deflated the Lions of the North’s spirits, going down controversially 1-0 at Makhulong Stadium.

On Saturday, at the same venue, Highlands were denied a legitimate goal when another assistant referee incorrectly flagged Peter Shalulile offside. However Highlands still beat Chippa United 2-0. The mistake against Pirates left Da Gama distraught as his team was 10 minutes away from securing a point.

“First and foremost, it was 3m offside,” Da Gama said. “They showed it there (on the TV monitor during the post-match interview). The whole world saw it. And it is the very same linesman who in the first half, Pirates heads the ball and he signals for offside (against my player when Highlands didn’t have the last pass). When I confront him at half-time, he says that it was a mistake. I mean, please guys.

“Let’s not take anything from Pirates. Congratulations to them. They played well and I think that the other linesman and the referee were very good. They did a very good job.

Da Gama continued, “But that linesman on the far end, I think that he should go to jail. You can’t do that at this level. People’s lives are at stake here. Players are working hard for their families. You work hard the whole week, only for someone to do something like that. If it’s a 50/50 decision you can understand, but a 3m like that. That is shameful for football in our country, but something has to be done about this.”

To make matters worse, Mabasa shouldn’t have finished the match after a reckless challenge on Lindokuhle Mbatha. Mabasa only received a yellow card.

“Mbatha had to get an injection after that. He never recovered from that tackle. I don’t know if Mbatha will be able to play again."

The Buccaneers got three points after going three matches without a win. This victory will ease the pressure going into their match against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday in the quarter-finals of the Telkom Knockout.

Highlands visit Maritzburg United tomorrow in their last eight clash. Their last cup run saw them reach the final of the MTN8 which they lost to SuperSport United.

“We’ve got a score to settle in these cup games and the players are furious,” Da Gama said. “They work hard all week to come and concede in this fashion. I need to calm them down, lift their spirits and make them understand that this is part of the game.”

Bonginkosi Ndadane