HIGHLANDERS head coach, Erol Akbay has apologised for the comments that he made about referee, Brighton Chimene after their abandoned Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match against FC Platinum, but still maintains that the penalty call, which triggered fracas at Mandava Stadium on Sunday was a wrong decision.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
Akbay said he had seen clips of the incident that led to the penalty in optional time for FC Platinum to equalise and to him, his striker Ralph Matema, adjudged to have hacked down Platinum striker, Charles Sibanda inside the box, had his foot first on the ball before touching the forward.
“The other day, I said something about the referee (Chimene) and I apologise to him because I said the ball was outside the box, but the ball was inside, no doubt about that,” Akbay said. “And I also said the referee was too far from the situation to see that and that was also not true. He was close to the situation and could see very well, but if you see that our player (Matema) got the ball first and the other player (Sibanda) falls over it. And that is why I was disappointed because the referee was close and he saw that. I said stupid things because I was so cheesed off because you get a penalty against you in the last seconds of the game and the penalty call was not correct.”
The Dutchman said he was disappointed because after making a close assessment, he had come to the conclusion that six of the games that Highlanders had played so far, including the Independence Trophy final against Dynamos at the National Sports Stadium, had been decided by match officials.
“Of the 12 games that we have played so far apart from the ZNA Charity Shield, six have been decided by referees, and that for us is 50%. People are not stupid; they have also seen the situation that is happening around Highlanders. If six of your games out of 12 will be decided by referees, then you start asking questions: Why is it that every time it’s Highlanders who have problems with referees?” he said.
Akbay said he was not happy with how the league matches against Shabanie Mine at BF, Chapungu at Ascot, the abandoned matches against Dynamos (BF) and FC Platinum (Mandava) and Harare City at the National Sports Stadium were handled.
He posed the question to the Zifa Referees’ Committee that has the responsibility of assigning match officials.
“I can only ask the referees’ committee what the problem is here. Why is it every time our matches are being decided by the referees? That is my biggest problem now. It is as if the referees are saying Highlanders cannot be champions this year, but everything is there for everyone to see even on television. If there is anyone that is complaining this year, it is me. Of course, we are not happy about violence.”