Absa Premiership

Ndoro eligibility issue: League organisers heave sigh of relief

Tendai Ndoro (Gallo Images)
Tendai Ndoro (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - They should secretly heave a sigh of relief and thank Mamelodi Sundowns for clinching the Absa Premiership title with little fuss and bother over the weekend by beating Ajax Cape Town 3-1 and in the process defusing the time bomb the PSL had themselves created.

The League, by its curious and misguided handling of what has become known as the Tendai Ndoro "bombshell”, precipitated what could have created an almighty soccer explosion had the playing of the Zimbabwean international striker in seven games for Ajax Cape Town ultimately affected either the Premier League or relegation issues.

Sundowns have buried the possibility of this happening as far as the title race is concerned by cementing a record league championship success in the PSL era with a seven-point advantage over Pirates, who went down 1-0 to Cape Town City last Saturday, even before the final round of fixtures.

Relegation-threatened Ajax staged an impressive revival during Ndoro's seven appearances with a number of invaluable victories, including one over erstwhile title challengers Pirates.

But after issuing Ndoro with a player's ticket and the League's Dispute Resolution Committee confirming his registration and right to play for Ajax, the PSL itself remarkably over-turned the decision in mid-stream and ruled Ndoro could not represent the Cape Town club this season in accordance with a FIFA rule that stipulates a player cannot feature in the colours of three different clubs in a season.

The decision of the PSL executive was akin to the organisation deciding a winning goal in a game was converted from the penalty spot the referee should not have awarded - and thereby over-turning the result of the game.

And, what has come into question, is whether self-interest had been an over-riding factor in the executive's somersault verdict.

What has happened since is a series of appeals to SAFA, an arbitration ruling, an appeal to FIFA for guidance and court actions that have left the outcome of what has been labelled an administrative debacle still undecided - and now apparently back in the hands of another arbitration decision after relegation-threatened Ajax's appeal to field Ndoro in the fateful run-in to the Absa Premiership championship was turned down last week by a Johannesburg court judge.

"I believe it would be totally incomprehensible and an injustice if we are deprived of any of the hard-earned points we gained in the games in which Ndoro played," says seasoned Ajax coach Muhsin Ertugral, "but we have, in any case, already been damaged by the PSL's decision to reverse their original ruling regarding the player."

Fortunately, however, the Ndoro case, no matter how it is concluded, cannot now decide the destination of the League title.

But it could still have a bearing on the relegation question, although bottom-of-the-log Platinum Stars are doomed for the big drop to the National First Division and due to be replaced by NFD champions Highlands Park, but with 15th-placed Ajax, 14th-positioned SuperSport United, 13th-positioned Polokwane City and 12th-placed Baroka FC all still involved in the battle to avoid 15th place in the log and thereby go into the play-off for a place in next season's Premier League.