The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
IF ever there were any doubts about Prince Dube’s dazzling strike that won the Chibuku Super Cup for Highlanders against Ngezi Platinum Stars at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday having crossed the line, still images show that the ball did go over.
Ngezi Platinum coach Rodwell Dhlakama was furious after first assistant referee Salani Ncube made the call that Dube’s ferocious strike had crossed the line, which led to the man in the middle, Brighton Chimene to point to the centre spot.
“It was the turning point of the game, the ball did not even cross the line, it hit the bar, came back into play and the referee had to give that goal. Where have you seen a goal given like that in this world?” fumed Dhlakama.
Still images however prove that it was a genuine goal by the 22-year old Dube, the fourth for the striker in the Chibuku Super Cup. Dube actually scored in of Bosso’s four matches in the Chibuku. The Warriors striker scored a goal each against Dynamos, FC Platinum, ZPC Kariba and Ngezi Platinum.
Pictorial evidence shows the ball which hit the cross bar, the ground then bounced back into play landed over the line before ricocheting off to an already beaten Nelson Chadya who handled. As Chadya was preparing to launch an attack, Ncube had his flag to signal that the ball had crossed the line with Chimene obliging by pointing in the direction of the centre circle.
The images show that it was a brave but correct call by the 34-year old Ncube, a member of the Fifa panel. It is even said that Match Commissioner Brighton Mudzamiri, the only Zimbabwean referee to appear at the Fifa World Cup finals when he did so at the 2002 tournament held in Japan/South Korea was impressed by the call made by the Minda High School Mathematics teacher
Zifa Referees Committee chairman Bryton Malandule, who was not at Barbourfields on Saturday said based on Mudzamiri’s report, there are no issues whatsoever with the goal which handed Bosso the Chibuku Super Cup.
“From what I heard, the match officials on the day are happy that the ball crossed the line. From the pictures I saw and the angles I saw, the ball crossed the line, we wonder what the fuss is all about because in the absence of the Video Assistant Referee, the assistant referee makes the call. From the report of Match Commissioner, we believe it was a goal from the position where the assistant referee was positioned,’’ Malandule said.
The referees boss went on to state that a goal is given when the whole circumference of the ball crosses the line airborne or on the surface.
“A goal is scored when the ball crosses the line under the cross bar, whether in the air or on the ground. In the absence of VAR, there are no referrals. The laws of the game give the match officials powers to determine whether it’s a goal or not, they give an opinion, whether wrong or right. In this instance, we believe the correct decision was made so the goal stands,’’ said Malandule.
Highlanders coach Hendrik Pieter de Jongh was also angry that Chimene did not send off Ngezi Platinum captain Frank Makarati for impeding Dube when the striker went for goal. Makarati was the last man in defence and the Dutchman felt that Chimene ought to have shown Makarati a red card.
However, Malandule said it was not automatic that the defender should have been sent off as the referee determines whether the striker was denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Another factor that is looked at according to Malandule is the position of the other defending players, whether they have a chance of catching up with the striker or not.
“The referee makes a determination if the defender denied the striker an obvious goal scoring opportunity, so if it’s not an automatic goal scoring opportunity, the referee does not send off the defender. Positioning of the other defending players also comes in, if they have a chance catching up with the attacking player then it’s not a red card.”
Ncube’s big call on Saturday in such a crucial match, seeing that the Match Commissioner gave him the thumbs could swing things in his favour when the Referee of the Year is named at the PSL awards banquet in Harare on Friday. He has twice been runner up for the award and this time around he has a good chance of landing the big one. While coaches, captains and journalists vote for the bulk of the awards, for the Referee of the Year, the winners are chosen based on the reports of the Match Commissioners who rate the performance of the referees and their assistants every game.