Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
REFEREES appointments came into the spotlight at the weekend with championship chasing Ngezi Platinum Stars causing a 20-minute delay to their league game against Chicken Inn FC at Luveve Stadium on Saturday.
Ngezi were questioning the objectivity and impartiality of first assistant referee, Major Mususa, who they alleged is related to FC Platinum general manager, Joseph Mususa, who is a former referee and instructor.
With Ngezi hot on the heels of FC Platinum, with the two platinum sides having made the title race a two-team affair, their concerns were a clear jab towards the face of the referees’ appointments committee as they argued that Major could swing the decisions against them, possible alleging that his interests are to serve the reigning champions where his “relative” works.
Ngezi are not the first to complain about Major.
Last season when Dynamos were in the title race with FC Platinum, they protested against the same match official before their game against Bantu Rovers at Barbourfields Stadium on November 18. DeMbare refused to have the official handle their encounter, leading to another assistant referee being called in to officiate in place of Major. Dynamos won the encounter 3-2, pushing the championship race to the wire. FC Platinum won the title with 72 points, two ahead of Dynamos.
Unfortunately for second placed Ngezi, there was no substitute for Major and they went on to draw 1-1 with Chicken Inn.
Ngezi, now on 48 points, went into the weekend trailing leaders FC Platinum by two points but came out of Bulawayo four points behind the defending champions who beat Chapungu 2-0 at home.
However, Major was not affected by the pre-match fiasco as he handled the game well.
“We questioned his (Major’s) impartiality. We wanted to protect ourselves and protect him as well. But we are happy that the message was sent,” Ngezi coach Tonderai Ndiraya said in his post-match interview. With the championship and relegation races at the peak, referees will be under the spotlight and how the referees’ desk appoints match officials will be under scrutiny.
Neither the PSL nor the Zimbabwe Referees’ Committee vice president Gladmore Mzambi were available for comment.
Meanwhile, former champions Caps United were reportedly locked out of Rufaro Stadium by the home team Herentals, leading to a 20 minute kickoff delay on Saturday. The two teams went on to play to a 0-0 scoreline and Herentals are likely to be slapped with a fine.
On Sunday, Harare City used an undesignated entry point to the pitch for their game against Bulawayo Chiefs at Luveve Stadium, with indications that they were running away from “supernatural powers”. Harare City officials tried to defend themselves by saying that they did not know the exact point of entry even though they have played a number games at the Bulawayo venue.
Their entry stunt, which will cost them a fine, didn’t yield any result as they went on to lose 1-0 courtesy of a long-range drive by Stanley Ngala.
In other highlights of the weekend, Dynamos remembered how to win, ending a three-game winless streak by beating ZPC Kariba 1-0. Reports say the club’s “bad boy” Denver Mukamba made his return from a brief loan-spell at Caps United with a sizzling performance. Ocean Mushure also returned into first team action with an assist.
Bulawayo City continue to struggle, sinking deeper into the relegation zone following a 2-0 away loss to Black Rhinos.
Bulawayo City host Herentals tomorrow at Barbourfields Stadium hard-pressed for a win, while champions FC Platinum face a Harare City test at Rufaro Stadium.
Ngezi are home to Shabanie Mine who are swimming in the murky relegation waters.
Saturday: Chicken Inn 1-1 Ngezi Platinum Stars, Nichrut 0-0 Highlanders, Herentals 0-0 Caps United, FC Platinum 2-0 Chapungu, Black Rhinos 2-0 Bulawayo City
Sunday: Mutare City Rovers 2-1 Shabanie Mine, Bulawayo Chiefs 1-0 Harare City, Dynamos 1-0 ZPC Kariba, Triangle United 2-1 Yadah
Tomorrow: Harare City v FC Platinum (Rufaro), Bulawayo Chiefs v Mutare City Rovers (Luveve), Chapungu v Black Rhinos (Ascot), Yadah v Dynamos (National Sports Stadium), ZPC Kariba v Nuchrut (Nyamhunga), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Shabanie Mine (Baobab), Bulawayo City v Herentals (Barbourfields)
Thursday: Caps United v Triangle United (Rufaro), Highlanders v Chicken Inn (Barbourfields)
P W D L F A GD Pts
FC Platinum 22 16 4 2 32 8 24 52
Ngezi Platinum Stars 22 15 3 4 36 14 22 48
Chicken Inn 22 11 8 3 30 14 16 41
Caps United 22 9 9 4 24 14 10 36
Highlanders 21 10 6 5 19 12 7 36
Triangle United 22 11 2 9 27 20 7 35
Harare City 22 7 11 4 20 16 4 32
Black Rhinos 22 8 8 6 19 17 2 32
Herentials 22 6 9 7 12 17 -5 27
Bulawayo Chiefs 22 6 8 8 18 21 -3 26
**ZPC Kariba 22 7 8 7 18 21 -3 26
Yadah FC 22 6 8 8 24 31 -7 26
Dynamos 21 6 7 8 18 23 -5 25
Chapungu 22 5 6 11 16 28 -12 21
Nichrut 22 5 5 12 17 27 -10 20
Mutare City 22 3 6 13 17 28 -11 15
Bulawayo City 22 4 3 15 18 31 -13 15
Shabanie Mine 22 2 9 11 20 42 -22 15
**Three points deducted for use of a suspended player