Dikgacoi off to inauspicious start, but manager Hodgson defends his player

2009-10-06 00:00

KAGISHO Dikgacoi has got off to an inauspicious beginning at new team Fulham, being sent off with a straight red card for violent conduct in his first Premier League start for the club in their 2-2 draw with West Ham at Upton Park on Sunday, but manager Roy Hodgson said he has sympathy for the Bafana Bafana midfielder.

Dikgacoi (24) signed for Fulham from Durban side Lamontville Golden Arrows in the off-season to become the fifth South African plying his trade in the Premier League along with the Blackburn Rovers pairing of Benni McCarthy and Elrio van Heerden, Steven Pienaar at Everton and Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena at struggling Portsmouth.

But, after a two-month wait to get his first league start having made his club debut as a second-half substitute in a League Cup game against Manchester City, Dikgacoi got an early taste of how tough life can be in the Premier League when he saw red in the 42nd minute on Sunday for a push in the face of West Ham’s Scott Parker.

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson told BBC.com he had sympathy for Dikgacoi for what at first appeared an innocuous spat. Referee Phil Dowd initially was going to book both players but sent Dikgacoi off after consulting the assistant referee.

“I didn’t see any signs of violent conduct — to call it handbags would be exaggerating it,” Hodgson said.

“The player and referee, who had to send him off for raising his hand, have my sympathy. He didn’t deserve it.

“The referees are under such enormous instruction, so he has my sympathy,” Hodgson added. “But they should be given more leeway to look at each situation individually.

“I come from a generation where violent conduct is violent. I have a problem getting my head around two players nose-to-nose and one of them being sent off for violent conduct. I have a problem with that.”

Hodgson told the BBC he had a conversation with Parker as the two walked down the tunnel at the break.

“I was irate and I made my feelings known to Scott,” said Hodgson. “He conducted himself well though and he thought it was a sending off, so we agreed to differ on the matter.”

Dikgacoi, who joins Bafana this week for their friendly against Norway in Oslo on Saturday, told Kickoff.com: “Parker hit me with his head and I pushed him away to protect myself. I thought it was a bit unfair when the ref showed yellow cards to both of us, but to my surprise after consulting the referee he showed me a red card.

“I was very disappointed with the referee’s decision because I thought I didn’t deserve the card.”

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