CAPE TOWN – South African football was plunged into the depths of insanity on Friday night as Cape Town City defeated Polokwane City 1-0 in a PSL fixture.
As always seems to be the case in the PSL, the football action played second fiddle as the match officials took centre stage.
City netted a legitimate goal and the referee made three decisions.
First, the assistant-referee missed the fact that Polokwane defender Thapelo Tshilo was standing on the goal-line when Lehlohonolo Majoro gained possession and scored in the 87th minute. The referee, Cedrick Muvhali, overruled his assistant and awarded the goal.
The match official was then assailed by Polokwane’s players and officials, and he changed his decision, deciding not to award the goal.
In short, it was a moment of deep embarrassment for football in the PSL. To be brutally honest, it made a mockery of the sport.
Last week, when City were also denied a legitimate goal against Orlando Pirates, City coach Benni McCarthy said “referees are keeping South African football behind”. He is so right.
The referee then looked to make up for his mistake as he awarded City a penalty for handball in dying moments, a spot-kick which Majoro comfortably put away to make sure that the Cape side took all three points.
After successive defeats to the Soweto giants, Kaizer Chiefs and Pirates, McCarthy tweaked his starting team a touch.
Goalkeeper Shu-aib Walters, who was guilty of a howler in the defeat to Pirates, was dropped, with Sage Stephens taking over the number one jersey.
Tshepo Gumede came in for Taariq Fielies in the centre of defence, while – with Austrian Roland Putsche out injured – Nigerian Victor Obinna was handed his first start in City colours.
Unfortunately for City, it didn’t have the required effect as they produced a scrappy, disjointed and error-ridden opening 45 minutes.
Despite lots of ball possession, they hardly tested Polokwane goalkeeper Harold Ndlovu.
The Cape side had just two opportunities at goal, with Ayanda Patosi shooting wide and Majoro hitting the upright.
But that was it – for the rest, there wasn’t all that much for City to enthuse over.
In fact in attack, it was Polokwane who looked more threatening as they proved troublesome on the transition.
Whenever City turned over possession, which was often, the visitors foraged forward effectively, especially with the pace of Rodney Ramagalela and Vusi Mngomezulu.
If Polokwane had been more composed in front, they could well have surprised the Capetonians in a first half of much endeavour, but little entertainment.
In the second half, though, City gained more of the ascendancy, and in contrast to the first half, there was a lot more purpose and energy about the City attack.
As such, the chances came – Lyle Lakay was played in invitingly by Mpho Matsi, but was let down by first touch; Thabo Nodada had space for a shot in the penalty area, but it was too soft to trouble Ndlovu; and Majoro then had the chance of the game from inside the five-yard area, but the ball was cleared off the line by a defender.
Desperate to find a way through the resolute Polokwane defence, McCarthy brought on Factreton’s Craig Martin for his City debut, hoping the player’s blinding speed would open things up.
Martin showed some really nice touches, and certainly looks a player who will be useful for the Cape side as the season progresses.