Horrendous officiating mars ‘Battle of Zimbabwe’


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By Lawrence Mangenje in Bulawayo

Referee Jimmy Makwanda made a mockery of a football match after making dreadful decisions which triggered crowd trouble and ultimately the abandonment of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League clash between Highlanders and Dynamos at Babourfields Stadium yesterday.

The Masvingo-based official allowed play to continue after a foul and head injury to Dynamos midfielder Shadreck Nyahwa before also ignoring the fact that goalkeeper Tymon Mvula, was elbowed in the buildup to Bosso  substitute Washington Navaya’s headed goal in the 92nd minute – a goal Highlanders fans celebrated by invading the pitch.

Bizarrely, assistant referee Melody Ncube raised his flag for a foul on Nyahwa but the referee waved play-on, much to the disbelief of the DeMbare players and officials.

Dynamos fans responded by invading the pitch in protest, leading to the abandonment of the tense encounter.

Police had to intervene to prevent the mayhem from getting worse, as Bosso fans were advancing from the Soweto end to the Mpilo end housing their DeMbare counterparts before match commissioner Edson Nkau confirmed the contest could not go on.

Makwanda had added 13 minutes of optional time, to compensate for the lengthy delay also triggered by crowd trouble, after Bill Antonio tackled Bosso defender Andrew Tandi in the 62nd minute.

Tandi had to be stretched off and taken to the hospital.

Antonio’s tackle looked accidental at first glance but Bosso fans pressured the match official to show the teenager his marching orders, by vandalizing advertising boards in protest, leading to police details intervening.

After a close to 12 minute delay, Antonio was sent off but the decision was somewhat harsh and perhaps made to appease the rowdy Bosso fans.

Highlanders started well, and were by far the better team in the early stages of the game and should have taken the lead in the fifth minute but Lynoth Chikukwa miscued his effort inside the box after being set by the impressive Devine Mhindira.

Chikukwa failed to convert again in the 23rd minute when he couldn’t direct his header from a pinpoint Peter Muduhwa cross, on target.

Neither side failed to find the breakthrough and went to the half-time interval deadlocked.

DeMbare coach Tonderai Ndiraya tried to add the much need attacking impetus upfront, something which his charges clearly lacked in the first half, by bringing on Emmanuel Paga and Evans Katema for Alex Orotomal and the rather quiet King Nadolo, just after the restart.

The change appeared to have changed the complexion of the game in DeMbare’s favour, before the Antonio red card incident, which was the turning point in the game.