By Anita Rannoba
The reality of ignorance in local football’s top echelons was laid bare for all to see this past weekend as confusion reigned supreme at the end of extra time in the Mascom Top 8 clash between rivals Gaborone United and Township Rollers.
In what was a proper cup tournament match, GU, who were trailing 0 ÔÇô 2 to Rollers from the first leg of their semi-final clash did what was unexpected of them, beating their rivals by the same score line to send the match to extra time.
Despite playing the entire extra time with a man short after the dismissal of Motsholetsi Sikele, Rollers showed they have a stomach for a good fight as they took the lead against GU. It was however not to be as GU equalised to set up for a controversial end to the game.
Believing they had won the game courtesy of an away goal rule after their 3 ÔÇô 3 aggregate score, Rollers players and supporters started celebrating while GU players and supporters contemplated what could have been.
However, the mood for both sets of players and supporters changed in the blink of an eye when the match commissioner and the tournament’s Local Organising Committee (LOC) ordered the referee to take the game to penalties.
The interference proved a cue for confusion as both sets of teams’ officials and players, alongside referees, Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Premier League (BPL) officials engaged on legal gymnastics to determine how the game should proceed.
Rollers officials and players however were not agreeable to such as they believed they had won via the away goal rule, something which the referee may have had in mind when he brought the game to an end.
At the heart of the debate was the interpretation of the Mascom Top 8 tournaments rules and regulations articles 2.5 and 2.6, read along with article 7.2.
Articles 2.5 and 2.6 states that, ‘the semi- finals shall be played on a two-legged basis with the overall winner of the two (2) legs proceedings’ to the final of the tournament. In the event that there is a tie at the end of the second game, there shall be an extra time of thirty minutes. In the event that extra time does not produce a winner the game shall proceed to a penalty shootout in accordance with the FIFA Play rules and regulations and FIFA Laws of the game’.
Along with article 7.2 which reads ‘in the event the teams are still tied at full time on the second leg, the away goal rule shall apply. If after the application the clubs are still tied, the game shall proceed to extra time and then penalty shootout to determine the winner’.
Quizzed if he knew they were to have penalties following their 3 ÔÇô 3 draw with Rollers, GU head coach Philmon Makwengwe said “I did not know anything about the rule either but our officials reminded us after extra time.”
As for Township Rollers head coach, Rodolfo Zapata, he shun the media and went to the dressing room without a comment. But the mouth piece for popa, Bafana Pheto, noted that they are in talks as a team to see the way forward and how to deal with what transpired during game.
The confusion has brought differing opinions within the local football structure, with some saying Rollers was robbed, while others are of the opinion that the right call was made on the day.
However, one official said the confusion laid bare the inefficiency of local football administration. “Our administrators should have long issued teams with the tournament rules and regulations and should have also held a workshop for them to discuss these rules ahead of the tournament,” the former administrator opined.
“We will be playing the FA Cup and as of now, we are yet to get the rules and regulations for the said tournament and we are likely not to be educated on these rules. We will probably only get the rules when there is a protest. This is the sad reality of our football,” the former administrator said.