Referee crisis as top officials fail fitness test

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Sandile Dilikane (Gallo Images)
Sandile Dilikane (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - South African football faces a troubling predicament after three match officials on the international panel failed a fitness test.

The failure of the experienced trio of Sandile Dilikane, Lindikhaya Bolo and Thembisile Windvoel will put pressure on newcomers to the high-profile matches leading to the final stretch of the domestic campaign.

Premier Soccer League coaches, Mamelodi Sundowns’ Pitso Mosimane in particular, have already voiced their unhappiness about the recent standard of refereeing.

As a result of their failure, the country’s officials’ participation in CAF inter-club competitions could be limited as there won’t be enough assistant referees to accompany all the men in the middle.

The country had seven assistants on the international list, but with Zakhele Siwela likely to be paired with his World Cup-bound team of Janny Sikazwe of Zambia and Angola’s Jerson Emiliano dos Santos, South Africa will be left with only three assistants to work with five referees.

This means five referees on the panel - Daniel Bennett, Victor Hlungwani, Victor Gomes, Thando Ndzandzeka and Chris Harrison - will have to do with four (if Siwela is included in the South African team) available assistants at a time.

Instead of having three teams going out, there would be only two going out.

However, City Press has learnt that the SA Football Association (SAFA) could hold its next fitness test sooner than usual.

Normally, failed officials have to wait for six weeks before they are retested, but SAFA could bypass this arrangement to ensure there are men on the field.

A high-ranking SAFA official hinted they would have to act to address the situation. The official, who did not want to be named, said the situation was not conducive for the association.

Meanwhile, Akhona Makalima, the only female referee in the elite league, is back on the panel after passing the test. She has been missing in action for some time, but might now be given some high-profile matches.

Next week two teams will go out to officiate CAF matches, with Ndzandzeka, Siwela, Athenkosi Ndongeni and Christopher Harrison going to Tanzania to handle the highly anticipated encounter between Simba Sports Club and El-Masry of Egypt on Wednesday.

Gomes will officiate the match between AS C Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Morocco’s Difaâ Hassani El Jadidi on March 18, where he will be assisted by Johannes Moshidi, Mervyn van Wyk and Hlungwani.

SAFA failed to respond to questions by the time of publication.

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