8 February 2013

Uganda: What Will Afcon 2013's Legacy Be?

Johannesburg — WILL it be for the classic goals that have been scored or match-winning performances we have been treated to over the course of the 32 matches?

Unfortunately, it's neither of the two.

It's such a shame that despite all the thrilling performances we have watched since the tournament rolled off on January 19, it's the men in black that have claimed the limelight here for all the wrong reasons.

When CAF dismissed Egyptian referee Grisha Ghead from the tournament after his scandalous display in the Group C game between Nigeria and Zambia, we thought subsequent fixtures would be handled to acceptable standards.

And yet before Ghead could even set foot in Cairo, CAF's ruthless hand was being forced onto another culprit, this time in South African Daniel Bennet.

Bennet had a dismal outing in the game between Tunisia and Togo -his decisions suspect throughout the game and could have cost Togo qualification to the knockout stages.

He had to be thrown out of the tournament following serious public outcry.

CAF was then forced to quietly reverse one of the yellow cards that Bennet wrongly flashed at one of the Togolese players Dare Nibombe.

At this stage, while the tournament thought it had had enough of the scandals, Tunisian Jdidi Slim came up with his own script.

Jdidi's performance during the semi-final involving West African rivals Ghana and Burkina Faso is probably the worst African football has seen in living memory. There was mistake after mistake!

He denied Burkina Faso two genuine penalties, disallowed a clear goal and controversially sent off danger-man Pitroipa. The Stallions have since appealed but if the decision isn't rescinded ahead of Sunday's final against Nigeria, CAF's muddled integrity will be beyond repair.

There has been a casual defense raised over the years that referees are human beings prone to errors. Sure, and most fans have in fact come to accept that the men in black have a thankless task.

But then again there are situations where referees could have done a lot more in helping themselves.

Ghead, Bennet and Jdidi have all been castigated because of the sequence of scandalous decisions in the tournament.

There is more to being a monumentally bad referee than just getting a few important decisions wrong.

Ghead, Bennet and Jdidi bottled it in the biggest games of their careers -and at the wrong time when football is desperately fighting to steer clear of match-fixing allegations.

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