ZIFA are not lifting their foot of the pedal in their spirited for justice following a diabolical technical error committed by Swazi referee Thulani Sibandze, with the association arguing that the outcome of their CHAN qualifier against Namibia ought to be reviewed by the Confederation of African Football.
While CAF have already suspended Sibandze and his assistant Petros Mbingo for the technical error they committed during the kicks from the penalty spot in the CHAN second round, second leg qualifier between Zimbabwe and Namibia at the National Sports Stadium on July 23, ZIFA believe there are sufficient grounds to lobby for a replay at least for the shoot-out on the basis that the lottery should be rendered inconclusive as result of the match officials’ gaffe.
In a letter to the acting CAF secretary-general Essam Ahmed, ZIFA chief executive Joseph Mamutse also questioned Sibandze’s decision not to list that the penalty taken by Namibia’s Dynamo Fredricks was technically flawed and should not have stood.
Mamutse argued that the shoot-out should have ended 4-4 with the process then being decided by the sudden death penalties.
“ZIFA after a thorough review of a controversial incident in which a ghost goal from the penalty spot (the third effort by Namibia’s Dynamo Fredricks) during the penalty shoot-out hereby advises the Confederation of African Football of its official appeal to have the effort declared null and void because of the technical error made by the referee Thulani Sibandze not to list that effort as a disallowed goal in terms of Law 14 and read with Law 10 of the laws of the game.
“We have received expert advice that the Swazi referee erred technically in not disallowing that effort and instead noting it as a goal, recording that the penalty shoot-out ended 5-4 in Namibia’s favour when in reality it ended 4-4 and there should have been sudden death penalties taken by both teams.
“The technical error has a huge bearing on the outcome of our entire CHAN campaign as we note that the Namibians have been fixtured to play in the final qualifier against the Comoros when our match did not end. “Our captain Denis Dauda and goalkeeper Herbert Rusawo launched an immediate protest against the referee’s technical error whose footage we are glad to share with you to substantiate our protest and given they did not see what the referee noted in his book it was their understanding that he had listed the effort as a missed goal as prescribed by the laws of the game and were shocked when he blew to end the contest without going to the sudden death penalties.
“We have been advised the match commissioner noted the error and advised CAF leading to the suspension of the Swazi official.
“Surely in such circumstances we believe that it would be a travesty of justice if an entire country’s campaign in a prestigious competition like the Total CHAN can be destroyed by the technical error of the very men expected to ensure the laws of the game are applied and the match didn’t end.
“We ask for the possible remedies in such a scenario including the possibility 0f a replay against Namibia and note that similar cases where the technical errors by the referee (Bahrain vs. Uzbekistan 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying) and England versus Norway (UEFA Under-19 Championships) where a penalty was at the centre of the controversy were resolved by replays. “Your urgent co-operation in this matter will be greatly appreciated to enable us to map the way forward in relation to those avenues that could still be open for us to press for a resolution of this sensitive case which is generating a lot of bad publicity in our country and around the world,” Mamutse wrote.
ZIFA Communications and Competitions manager Xolisani Gwesela also backed his chief executive’s sentiment arguing that:
“We would not be lodging an appeal if we doubted that there is sufficient grounds for this appeal to succeed.
“We are of the view that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done and the suspension of the match officials alone may not be sufficient to appease us for the ruin the referee caused to the players’ aspirations and the entire country’s aspirations at large,” Gwesela said.
ZIFA will be hoping that their spirited appeal will be met with a favourable response from CAF. With a precedent having been set where in 2015 the England FA protested against a referee’s mistake and UEFA ordered a replay saying this was an obvious violation of a rule by the referee that had a decisive influence on the final result of match”, ZIFA strongly believe there is a window of opportunity for them to succeed.