Ray Bande Senior Sports Reporter
THE country’s flagship football league flattered to deceive thousands of expectant fans that had thronged fortress Barbourfields and millions more following the action via telly, giving birth to a fierce debate on whether the match officials who handled the nation’s biggest football duel pitting old nemesis, Highlanders and Dynamos were right in allowing the DeMbare equaliser to stand.
Sunday’s decision to let the 39th minute DeMbare equaliser to stand led fans to invade the pitch in an archaic style of protest, hence the match was abandoned in the 42nd minute.
That the game had attracted the largest crowd of 18 177 paying spectators puts into contest the moral blameworthiness of the home team fans in fuelling the abandonment of the encounter.
Highlanders had scored through Rahman Kutsanzira in the 23rd minute. The bone of contention from the Highlanders players and supporters was that Dynamos’ Cameroonian striker, Christian Epoupa, was in an offside position when he scored and assistant referee, Thomas Kusosa did not flag the player for offside.
Epoupa picked up on a deflection from Highlanders defender, Peter Muduhwa to slot in the contested goal and the Bosso fans were of the view that Kusosa ignored the offside call.
Highlander’s supporters pelted Kusosa with missiles and invaded the pitch. The fans continued with their protests until match commissioner, Edson Nkau, said the game could no longer continue because of crowd trouble.
Highlanders have since been summoned to appear before the Premier Soccer League disciplinary committee next Tuesday for crowd trouble, which led to the abandonment of their league match against Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium.
Bosso are charged for flouting Order 31 of the PSL rules and regulations.
However, questions have been asked, ranging whether the match officials were spot on in that particular incident to whether Barbourfields should be banned from being used as the home ground for Highlanders for the rest of the season given the recurrence of scenes of violence at Emagumeni.
This week, The Manica Post sought the views of followers of the game of football in Mutare who were watching Sunday’s Castle Lager Premiership match
Blessing Ngwende, Mutare
You cannot conclude in real time as an assistant referee whether the deflection was done in a bid to defend the ball or he was just hit by the ball. People now have the privilege to see action in slow motion, but in real time you can only see the player deflecting the ball while trying to defend the ball and in the process change the offside position of the opponent.
In my opinion, the goal should stand and Highlanders must be penalised. We have seen worse things in other leagues and play was allowed to continue. Even Diego Maradona helped Argentina win the World Cup using his hand.
Who and how will they determine whether it was intentional or not intentional deflection? That is where the story lies. The assistant referee saw the deflection as intentional thereby making the goal legitimate. How many assistant referees do we need on the pitch? The guy (assistant referee) was nearer where action was. To me it was obvious that Mudhuwa was not just hit by the ball but he attempted to clear. The fact that the Highlanders defender was hit by the ball is not an issue, the issue is was it intentional or it was not.
Raymond Damba, Zimta Park, Mutare
The DeMbare striker was in an offside position when the ball was hit at goal. It deflected off a Bosso defender onto the foot of the offside player who shot at goal in an offside position.
The Bosso defender was struck by the ball. He didn’t play it, in my view. Unfortunately Bosso caused abandonment of the match and the outcome is clear. 3-0 to DeMbare.
The violence is also unfortunate. I thought football in Zimbabwe soccer deserved better. People must learn to accept that there are three outcomes in a game of soccer namely win, draw or loss. Not that Bosso were losing, in fact they may well have won it if they had played on.
Mwandibhuya Mutepfa, Canada (former Lancashire Steel and PSL secretary)
The recently abandoned match between Highlanders and Dynamos is one of the unfortunate incidences in our beautiful game. It does not only bring the game in to disrepute, but obviously drives away sponsors. In one of our meetings while we were reviewing a sponsorship deal, the Managing Director of this other company advised us that they were under a lot of pressure even from foreign shareholders of their company due to bad publicity. Hooliganism should be condemned and very serious campaigns should be done even at the expense of the respective clubs.
The stance being taken by ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa is commendable. The Premier Soccer League and ZIFA should join hands and introduce cameras that capture this kind of hooliganism and seriously deal with perpetrators of violence. Blacklisting of individual fans from entering stadia and heavy police presence with cameras could be the only solution. It is also important for the police to face the crowd instead of the pitch. While this will increase match expenses, breakfast games, empty stadiums and home away from home games have been tried and it seems not to be working. Investing in heavy security system at big games like that of Highlanders and Dynamos seem to be the only solution.
Lovemore ‘Thula’ Mapuya, Chipinge
First and foremost, we still need to be professionals in our country, on and off the pitch. Violence is now an old school type of supporting football.
It was a clear goal even if they were not happy about the referee’s decision they were supposed to appeal against it through PSL. Now because they have done it in a violent manner they are supposed to be fined heavily and Dynamos be given the maximum points.
Since it has happened with one of the biggest team in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, I think PSL must set an example of what is going to happen to any team which is going to do the same thing.
As long as we are going to relax on such issues we are going to be the worst league on SuperSport. Our league is now on SuperSport remember!
Munyaradzi Mapungwana, Yeovil, Mutare
Fans should not take the law into their own hands, Hooliganism and violence should not be condoned. Fans should respect match officials as instigation of violence will cause unnecessary loss of lives.
In my opinion, it was not an offside as the Dynamos striker received a deflected ball from a Highlanders defender.
Judging from how the events unfolded, Bosso should be fined and also lose points so as to prevent Bosso and potential culprit clubs from taking of the proverbial ‘primrose path’.