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IT might only have been just their first penalty of the season, but champions Dynamos found themselves facing a barrage of screaming headlines yesterday questioning their victory over FC Platinum at the National Sports Stadium on Wednesday.

The tabloids had a field day with one of them dubbing the win as “Robbery at the National Sports Stadium”, another describing the penalty that secured the victory as “dubious” while words like controversial and contentious featured prominently in the description of that spot-kick.

The defining moment came just four points before the end of a balanced poor game when striker Simba Sithole went down, as he attempted a bicycle-kick, while being shadowed by his former teammate Gift Bello.

Referee Ruzive Ruzive pointed to the spot, ruling that Sithole had missed the connection because his jersey had been tagged from behind by the diminutive defender.

Ruzive isn’t allowed to discuss his decisions with the media, something which is outrageous in this age and era where communication between referees on their headsets is even made public material as was the case when Howard Webb and his assistant discussed their correct decision not to give Thomas Muller a penalty in the Champions League showdown against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

In the English Premiership, a referee can provide an explanation of a contentious decision even at half-time, as was the case when Andre Mariner wrongly sent off Kieran Gibbs instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in a league match against Chelsea in the just-ended season.

However, The Herald was told authoritatively yesterday that Ruzive pointed to the spot after ruling that Bello had tagged Sithole and the one-angle camera television footage from the match, which we reviewed yesterday, doesn’t provide conclusive evidence save for showing contact.

However, there are two crucial points to note — Sithole immediately appeals to the referee while lying on the ground and his skipper Partson Jaure, who is standing on the shoulder of the penalty box, also appeals for a penalty.

The ball bounced and appeared to strike James Marufu on the hand, which gave rise to the video from ZBC television footage which went viral on social media yesterday, suggesting that the penalty was given for a handball.

But Ruzive DID not give a penalty for a handball incident, but for what he judged to be an incident in which Sithole’s attempts for an overhead kick had been compromised by a pull on his jersey by Bello, a foul that the referee decided was a punishable offence.

Ruzive yesterday faced questions of his alleged bias towards Dynamos, in the wake of his disputed call, and the irony of it all is that he is the same referee that Luke Masomere savaged, in his criticism, for allegedly favouring FC Platinum when he handed Kugona Kunenge Kudada a penalty that decided the Zvishavane Derby on October 29, 2011 at Mandava.

There was a six-minute stoppage, during that match, as the Shabanie Mine players protested against the penalty decision and Masomere summed up their feelings.

“People should not travel 389km to disturb peace in a community like Zvishavane. The penalty he awarded was dubious and he knows that,” the coach thundered.

Ironically, Ruzive’s fourth official at the National Sports Stadium on Wednesday was Batsirayi Muchenje, who was the referee exactly a month ago in the Independence Cup final where he added 11 minutes and awarded FC Platinum a penalty, in the final minute, when Wisdom Mutasa went down under the challenge of Tichaona Mabvura.

The television footage from that match shows the whole Dynamos defence, led by ‘keeper George Chigova, swarming the referee in protests but he stands his ground and Qadr Amin converts to take the game into a shootout which FC Platinum wins.

There is no questioning that Wednesday’s incident was pregnant with controversy but questions are now being asked as to how journalists, sitting in the stands at the National Sports Stadium and without the benefit of television replays, turn themselves into better judges of events on the field than a referee who is just metres away?

Yesterday retired referee Wilfred Mukuna, who is now an instructor and was at the giant stadium, said he wasn’t allowed to discuss such incidents with the media.

Dynamos team manager, Richard Chihoro, was adamant that it was a stonewall penalty.

“That was a penalty. The FC Platinum defender pulled the shirt of our player and the referee saw it since he was nearer to the scene. If the referee who was close enough to the action gave it then his decision should stand,” said Chihoro.

“I think he was spot on because there was tagging of the shirt in the box. It was unfortunate that no one wanted to lose that match. I think egos were on display.

“Compared to the game we played against CAPS United I think there was a slight improvement. We just need to work more on scoring goals. Sometimes these things take time but I am sure eventually we will come right.

“We are not losing focus because we don’t know much about Chiredzi except for a few players and their coach Moses Chunga. They are a new project and with the little knowledge that we have about them, it is to our disaantage because they know us well.

“We have also noted that this year all teams are playing very well. So we have to be prepared for them. They are the home side and obviously Chunga would want to win this match to get his team in a good standing and to strengthen his CV.

“He is a very good coach but we also have our own Callisto Pasuwa who has won three league titles in a row.”

Source : The Herald

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