Last Tuesday the football community woke up to the news that Zifa had nullified the red card shown to Dynamos’ Christian Epoupa by referee Arnold Ncube for head-butting Highlanders defender Peter Muduhwa.
Inside Sport with Michael Kariati
The football family, including some Dynamos supporters, could not believe what they were hearing as they thought this was an April Fool’s Day joke that had come a bit late in September.
The football fraternity, however, should be forgiven for taking this as a joke for this was reality. Zifa had acted in response to an alleged complaint from Dynamos that the referee did not protect Epoupa who was forced to head-butt Muduhwa.
Whatever complaint Zifa received from DeMbare, the question is: Why was the matter handled so quickly — only 24 hrs — after the incident, and why was it directed to Zifa and not the competition organisers — the Premier Soccer League — as is the norm?
Was the decision quickly taken to ensure that the Cameroonian player and influential goal-getter participates in today’s Harare derby between CAPS United and Dynamos? A game which if Dynamos win, they would top the 18-team table.
By doing this to Dynamos, doesn’t this add weight to the much-held view that the 1998 CAF Champions League finalists are favoured whenever they are in the run for the league championship?
More importantly, how did Zifa come up to the conclusion that Epoupa’s red card was unwarranted? What criteria did they use to come up with the decision to cancel Epoupa’s dismissal?
That is not all. How does the referee and all the other referees feel when such decisions are taken by the same association that not only appoints them to handle such matches, but is also supposed to protect them?
How then does Zifa expect the public to have faith in the same referees when the national football federation itself does not have belief in its own people?
What of the players? Won’t other high-profile players behave in the same manner Epoupa did, banking on the fact that Zifa would pardon them in the same way they did the Cameroonian?
Whatever the case, Dynamos coach Lloyd Mutasa has shown the way. Principled a man he is, Mutasa has come out in the open that he is not going to field Epoupa in the next two games he was supposed to have been suspended.
That is the mark of a man. Mutasa wants to win the league title cleanly. He does not want to be remembered as a coach who won the championship because he fielded players who were supposed to have been suspended. Or as a coach who won the championship because he received such and such favours.
Mutasa’s team is only two points away from the top of the table and a win against CAPS United this afternoon will see the Glamour Boys go top of the table, one point above both Chicken Inn and FC Platinum Stars, who are both on 51 points.
Hats off to Mutasa. He wants to win the league title fairly and cleanly. He wants to beat CAPS United without Epoupa, go top of the table and remain there until the season is over.
His team’s supporters should follow the example set by their coach. They should not repeat the violent conduct of last week when some of them threw missiles onto the field of play, or when ball boys interrupted play when things were going against their side.
If they are to win against the Green Machine as they did in the other fixture, DeMbare should do that fairly. Should they lose, they should do what CAPS United fans did by accepting defeat and going home without causing any ugly scenes.
Both sets of players should also not push the fans into violent conduct by behaving in a violent manner themselves. The players’ job is to entertain the fans and not to exchange blows and elbows or head-butts on the field of play.
Whoever loses and whatever the referee’s decisions are, fans should just accept that it is part of the game. You win some, you lose some. That is football.
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