Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
Highlanders have written to the Premier Soccer League demanding to be awarded their penalty appeal from their Castle Lager Premiership fixture against Dynamos at Rufaro Stadium last Sunday.
In accordance to Section 220.127.116.11 of the PSL’s Rules and Regulations, the complaint was addressed to PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele by Highlanders’ head of secretariat Nhlanhla Dube “registering an official complaint regarding the conduct of match referee, Arnold Ncube and his assistants”.
Highlanders’ complaint appears to have been triggered by a shocking decision by Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa who seems to have made a “solo” ruling as he overturned a red card shown to Dynamos striker, Christian Epoupa Ntouba in the Sunday clash.
In a statement issued on Monday, Chiyangwa claimed to have agreed with members of the Zimbabwe Referees’ Committee (ZRC) and faceless “several important football stakeholders” to nullify Epoupa’s red card.
The unprecedented ruling prompted the Bulawayo giants to appeal to the PSL stating their own grievances concerning match officiating during the tie.
“We are fully cognisant of the decision by the Zifa referees’ committee to set aside the red card shown to Dynamos’ Christian Epoupa Ntouba during the game in question and note the expedient consideration applied in this instance,” wrote Dube.
Dated 12 September, 2017, the letter makes a list of demands top of which is a penalty appeal that was not given by referee Ncube, but earned Godfrey Makaruse a yellow card.
Highlanders highlighted that they are prepared to travel to Harare just to take the penalty kick.
They pleaded to the powers to “expeditiously” consider their complaint and review.
“Award our team a penalty for the incident against Godfrey Makaruse, which penalty we will be willing to travel to Harare and take,” Highlanders wrote.
In their letter, Highlanders suggested that Dynamos’ goal by Epoupa scored from “an offside position” be scrapped.
Highlanders challenged the authorities to caution Dynamos’ technical bench who they accused of interfering with their play by twice throwing the ball into the field when Bosso approached DeMbare’s box.
They also want Masvingo-based referee Ncube and his assistants reprimanded and suspended from taking charge of PSL games for the rest of the season.
In conclusion, Highlanders said: “Finally confirm the obvious conclusion that our club is therefore the winner of the said match.”
Meanwhile, the PSL technically rendered invalid the move by Zifa to nullify Epoupa’s red card saying the referee’s decision is final.
The PSL issued a statement saying they had not received a protest letter from Dynamos or communication from Zifa regarding the expulsion of Epoupa and were only in possession of the referee’s report from the referee.
“Please note that in terms of Order 30 of the PSL Rules and Regulations:
“30.1 Any club involved in a match, may lodge a protest with the League in respect of any match played under the auspices of the League provided that:
18.104.22.168 A written protest accompanied by a protest fee of US$1 000 (One thousand dollars) is lodged with the General Secretariat of the League within 48 hours (forty eight) hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays) of the game and 22.214.171.124 The written protest referred to in order 30.1 above sets out the full facts on which it is based and refers to the Article and/or rule and regulation allegedly contravened by the offending party; and
126.96.36.199 The protest is not made against the referee’s and/or assistant referee’s decision connected with play, such decisions being final,” wrote PSL.
However, Dynamos president Kenny Mubaiwa who is also a member of the PSL Emergency Committee told our Harare Bureau that they welcomed Zifa’s decision to nullify Epoupa’s red card.
Mubaiwa said they were unapologetic after their appeal, in which they were complaining about the physical harassment they said their player was subjected to the whole afternoon by Bosso players had borne a positive output.
He added that they were ready to field the player amid concerns from supporters including their own DeMbare fans and other football stakeholders who felt that the move was tantamount to favouring the Glamour Boys.
“When we appealed, we were complaining that our player was subjected to attacks from Highlanders players, who were hitting him from the onset of the game but the referee did nothing. That was our query, before we can even look at the red card.
“He is our player, we signed him to play football and we want him to play at any given time,” he said.
Mubaiwa said they are unfazed by people’s comments around the matter.
“People will always talk and talk is cheap. Remember, we always see things differently, if you ask a person the colour of the sky, he will tell you it’s white but if you ask another one he will say the sky is blue, yet it is the same sky they are talking about.
“So if people don’t want Dynamos, they are bound to say negative things. We are playing good football, so we don’t need favours from anyone. But we also want fair play and protection from referees. Rules should protect everyone not to be one sided.
“I am surprised because everyone agrees that there was bad officiating on the day. As Dynamos we only lodged a complaint, stated what transpired as well as our grievances because we know our rights.
“Zifa are there as the mediator and what they do as a result of our complaint it is not our problem. It is not about seeking a favour, we just want fair play. That’s what we want.”
Mubaiwa said it appears no one cares about the ordeal which Ntouba went through at Rufaro.
“Right now, he has a swollen face resulting from that strong smash. But no one is talking about that,” he said.
DeMbare coach, Lloyd Mutasa said:
“It is better for the club’s administrators to comment. But what I can only say is, if my players are eligible, they just compete as the norm that is, they first train and if we are satisfied then they play.”