Nigerian Referees

Fans seek stiffer penalties against erring African referees

By Chukwuemeka Opara

Abakaliki –  Football fans in Ebonyi have urged the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to mete stiffer penalties against referees who decide outcome of matches with their biased officiating.

The fans who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abakaliki were reacting to Gabonese Referee Eric Castane’s controversial penalty award to Algeria which ensured its equalizer against Nigeria on Friday.

The ‘dead-rubber’ World Cup qualifier played in Constantine thus ended 1-1 with the Eagles already through to ‘Russia 2018’ and finishing its qualification campaign without a loss.

Emmanuel Uzor, Chief Press Secretary to Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi, noted that Castane towed the path of banned Ghanaian Referee, Joseph Lamptey in deciding the match in Algeria’s favour.

“It is ridiculous to see a referee awarding a penalty in favour of player who pushed his opponent as the referee wanted to ensure that Algeria did not lose the match at home.

“Such decisions account for the non-participation of African referees in major soccer competitions and CAF should descend more heavily on defaulters to save us from continued shame,” he said.

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Supporting this assertion, Princewill Nwankwo, a retired referee with the Ebonyi Referees Association, faulted the decision describing it as ‘shameful’.

“The result is of no consequence to both teams otherwise I could have advised the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to protest the decision like Senegalese did against South Africa.

“I know as a referee that we are not above mistakes but matches of such magnitude require utmost concentration and alertness from whoever is officiating,” he said.

Vincent Okpalaka, Former Enugu Rangers International Defender, urged CAF to investigate Castane over the decision but advised Nigeria to concentrate on its subsequent matches.

“The match showed that Coach Gernot Rohr was right not to feature some players during the qualifiers because those on parade performed below par.

“The players should improve on their performances against Argentine in the upcoming friendly because Nigerians are already anticipating a drubbing from the South Americans,” he said.

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Chief Josiah Ogodo, a Quarry Operator and Soccer Enthusiast noted that match exposed the lapses in the Eagles which the technical crew should correct immediately.

“It is clear that the goalkeeping and the left full back positions are still poor while the midfield and attack cannot operate efficiently without Mikel Obi and Victor Moses.

“Rohr’s job is made difficult due to insufficient FIFA free windows before the world cup as he should stop experimentation and scout for experienced players to fill such positions,” he said.

Mrs Juliana Nnoli, a Teacher and soccer buff supported this assertion and urged Rohr to maintain the present crop of players for the world cup preparation.

“The coach should instill confidence in the players and make them believe that they can perform optimally in the world cup even without their best players,” she said. (NAN)

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