While most South African match officials have been twiddling their thumbs during this Fifa international week, assistant referee Zakhele Siwela will be flying the country’s flag high.
On Tuesday, Siwela will be running the line in a friendly match between Morocco and Argentina at the Grand Stade de Tanger in the north African country.
From there, he will jet straight to Qatar to officiate in the CAF Super Cup final between Espérance de Tunis of Tunisia, last year’s CAF Champions League winners, and Raja Casablanca of Morocco, last year’s CAF Confederation Cup winners at the Thani bin Jassim Stadium in Al Rayyan in Qatar.
This will be the first CAF Super Cup to be played outside Africa.
The 36-year-old Siwela will be in Morocco with his World Cup team, which consists of Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe and Angolan assistant referee Jerson dos Santos.
In Qatar, he will be officiating with Ethiopian referee Bamlak Tessema Weyesa and Sudanese assistant Waleed Ahmed Ali.
The Alexandra-born Siwela has been the only effective South African on the Fifa panel after Safa’s bizarre decision to snub some experienced match officials.
Now he finds himself working with referees from other countries while the norm in international matches is to have referees from the same country working as a team.
It seems Safa’s decision to “retire” some referees from the international panel prematurely has come back to haunt it.
Three months ago, Safa decided to snub Victor Hlungwani, Thando Ndzandzeka and Johannes Moshidi from the international panel. It replaced them with the inexperienced Eugene Mdluli and retained the ineffective Daniel Bennett.
Four newcomers – Athuxolo Madela, Kgara Mokoena, Khamusi Razwimisani and Elphas Sitole – were added to the list, but they are still to make their debuts.
Besides having three referees on the panel, only Victor Gomes has been getting continental matches.
Bennett has not been considered since a controversial game between Uganda and Ghana in 2017. Chris Harrison still has to pass the fitness test – he has not officiated a game since he got injured last year.