Baxter, Harrison slam PSL refereeing

2013-12-21 00:00

GOLDEN Arrows coach Mark Harrison and Kaizer Chiefs boss Stuart Baxter have united in their disapproval over the standard of refereeing in the Premier Soccer League.

Chiefs defeated Arrows 1-0 in a league clash at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Thursday night, thanks to a second-half Bernard Parker penalty, and while Harrison was clearly unhappy with the decision to penalise left-back Mzivukile Tom for a hand ball in the box, it was Baxter who was first to criticise referee Zolile Mthetho.

“I have to say this, because Mark [Harrison] won’t, but the referee made it enormously difficult for the players to play properly,” said Baxter, making reference to the stop-start nature of the clash, where Mthetho went instinctively to his whistle whenever there was heavy contact.

“I’m risking the wrath of the PSL here, but some of the decisions were strange. We have to raise the subject again. People complain about our [managers’] jobs, people complain about the players’ jobs. We need to look at how we can improve refereeing.”

A visibly distraught Harrison was aggrieved at the decision to award a spot kick.

“The referee changed the game and put us on the back foot,” he said. “He [Tom] possibly made contact, but it is such a harsh decision. The ball is bouncing away from goal and the ref and linesman were so quick to make the decision, it’s scary.”

Harrison, who has now lost four matches in a row, is desperate to turn things around at the club, as speculation surrounding his future mounts and Arrows remain rooted to the bottom of the table.

“If you’re working in a league this prosperous and rich, then how have we not got full-time referees? How? It’s a crazy scenario,” said the Englishman. “There is a lot of money being pumped into this league and a lot of people contributing. The refs need to contribute too. Game-changing decisions like that are frightening, because I didn’t need to get beaten tonight.”

The good news is that Arrows were far more competitive against Chiefs than many thought they would be, and this should stand them in good stead ahead of tomorrow’s clash away to Orlando Pirates.

“We did ourselves proud. We showed a lot of people that we’re not as bad as they think we are. Over the past few days we, and me personally, have taken a lot of criticism,” said Harrison.

“We are always trying to improve; it is a constant battle. When you’re at a small club and you haven’t got resources, it’s a difficult thing. We’re limited.”

Harrison added that he would be active in the January transfer window as he looks to bulk up the squad for the second half of the campaign.

“We don’t have money to spend. We’ll look to pick up the odd free here and there,” he said, before focusing on his current group of players. “My players need to be at 100% in every single game. If we do that and we show the commitment that we did tonight [Thursday], then we will finish in a respectable position.”

Tomorrow’s match at Orlando Stadium kicks off at 3.30 pm.

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