AmaZulu coach raises concerns over top-flight refereeing decisions

Match referee Cedrick Muvhali defends his decision as AmaZulu protest against him giving a red card to Abbubaker Mobara. | BackpagePix

Match referee Cedrick Muvhali defends his decision as AmaZulu protest against him giving a red card to Abbubaker Mobara. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 22, 2024



The chances of AmaZulu reaching their targets are hanging by a thread amid the dubious refereeing decisions that have cost them results, says coach Pablo Franco.

There’s been a bout of questionable refereeing decisions in the top-flight.

Match referee Cedrick Muvhali defends his decision as AmaZulu protest against him giving a red card to Abbubaker Mobara. | BackpagePix

Usuthu conceded a dubious penalty against Pirates in the Nedbank Cup quarter final, while replays suggested that Makhehlene Makhaula may have dived. That penalty proved to be the turnaround Pirates needed as they equalised en route to winning 4-2 and eliminating Usuthu from the competition.

In a rematch seven days later, Usuthu conceded an early red card to Abbubaker Mobara, who was judged for hacking Patrick Maswanganyi, who was through on goal. But replays showed Mobara got the ball and not the man. The damage had been done though, as the 10-man Usuthu side lost to a late Tshegofatso Mabasa goal.

Out of the cup and languishing in the bottom half of the standings, Usuthu are nowhere near their targets in Franco’s full season in charge. So, with every team eyeing certain targets in the last six games in the league, the Spaniard is worried about their revival chances going forward.

Augustine Kwem of AmaZulu challenges Thabiso Lebitso of Orlando Pirates. | BackpagePix

“About the upcoming games, I worry because we are now in a position where it seems we are not fighting for what we deserve,” Franco explained.

“We are probably not going to fight for relegation, I don’t think so. So, what is going to be the motivation for us?

“We are facing difficulties because we have players whose contracts are coming to an end. This is for the rest of the teams though.”

This stage of the season requires all teams to be always at their best, and AmaZulu have been doing that without success, which worries Franco more.

“This is the stage of the season when you are so tired and working hard but you are not in the place that you deserve. It will be tough mentally,” he said.

Since the penalty incident in Durban, AmaZulu’s players have seemed restless with every refereeing decision, throwing tantrums or having a go at the referees.

So much so, that there were suggestions that Mobara was sent off for dissent on Saturday as he had a go at referee Cedrick Muvhali after the incident. But Franco was quick to point out that he didn’t say anything to the referees but instead was red-carded for the tackle against Maswanganyi.

“I didn’t see the players’ frustrations (from poor officiating) affecting their performances on the pitch,” Franco explained.

“But the resilience of these players and the way they are overcoming this situation and difficulties is huge. This (poor refereeing) has happened a lot of times.

“We have many difficulties that you don’t know. We also lost one of our players (Bongi Ntuli) and I can’t see anything more difficult than that, not only in football but in life.”

Amid the recent questionable refereeing decisions, there’s been an urgent call for the video assistant referee (VAR) system to be implemented. But both football stakeholders – Safa and the PSL – have been mum on this. Perhaps an indication that it will be a costly exercise neither can afford for now.

With systems such as VAR in place, Franco has insisted it would have been easier for them to appeal Mobara’s red card.

“If we want to make football fairer, of course when there’s an evident situation, they should recognise the error publicly,” Franco suggested.

“The funny thing is that the ones who are punished are the ones who didn’t do anything. The ones who make the mistakes will make them again.

“I think if we want to be fair, then we should have him available for the next game against Chippa United at home.”