Safa has made a U-turn and recommended two local referees as international match officials for next year’s Fifa panel after dropping them this year.
The association came under heavy criticism for sending a list of mostly newcomers to Fifa. City Press has now reliably learnt that Safa has recommended referees Victor Hlungwani and Thando Ndzandzeka to next year’s panel of international match officials.
The association was left with egg on its face with no senior officials on the Fifa panel after dropping the duo and others earlier this year.
The move did not go down well in some quarters and it backfired spectacularly as it left Safa with only two active referees – Victor Gomes and Eugene Mdluli – on the international panel and two others, Daniel Bennett and Chris Harrison, who were recommended but were not utilised by CAF and Fifa.
Gomes has been appointed to officiate at the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in Brazil – which kicks off next week – while Mdluli is off to Ghana next weekend for the clash between Asante Kotoko and Football Club de San Pedro of Ivory Coast.
This week a high-ranking Safa official let slip that Hlungwani and Ndzandzeka were among those recommended back to the panel as the association aims to reclaim its status on the continent.
South Africa used to be the leading supplier of match officials in Africa but has since fallen back.
Anastasia Tsichlas, chairperson of the referees’ committee, confirmed that they have finalised the list of match officials to Fifa.
But she could not divulge the names, as they had not been sent yet.
“We have reports and scores from all our committees [technical, appointment, examination and review] and based on their feedback we have recommended names to Fifa for consideration,” said Tsichlas yesterday.
She was quick to add that Safa wanted to reclaim its position on the continent.
“We have recommended many names this time around because we want to have many officials on the list. South Africa is the go-to country when it comes to match officials and we want to maintain that leading role, particularly with women referees.”
A fortnight ago City Press reported that assistant referee Mervin van Wyk’s name was also on the list sent to Fifa but has since been removed following his two glaring mistakes in the game between AmaZulu and Kaizer Chiefs. This was after he had denied AmaZulu two legitimate goals.