Wydad Frustrate Sundowns

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar May 7, 2019 00:14

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Wydad Frustrate Sundowns

By Satish Sekar at the Lucas Moripe Stadium © Satish Sekar (May 4th 2019)

Wydad Progress without VAR

Mamelodi Sundowns bowed out of the CAF Champion’s League after being held 0-0 at home by Wydad Athletic Club (WAC), setting up an all-North African final as defending champions Esperance also held the DR Congo’s (TP) Tuit Puisant Mazembe to advance to this month’s final.

Leading 2-1 from the first leg, Wydad created little in the first half, but disrupted play well, using tactics their coach Fouad Benzarti denied – intimidating opposition and officials. The Moroccans were fortunate to finish with eleven players as volatile defender Yahya Jabrane ought to have seen red.

Just after half an hour into the match Hlompho Kekana fouled Jabrane. He could have picked up a yellow card for that, but within a minute Jabrane ‘exacted’ his own punishment, leaving Kekana in a heap.

Mosimane refused to blame the officials for the defeat, but later told me his player had been stamped on. Stamped on or not it was a yellow card challenge, but Angolan referee Helder de Carvalho showed no card. Jabrane apologised, but evaded a card. This would be significant later.

Less than 14 minutes later Jabrane saw red and then should have seen a card of that colour.

Jabrane – with hands raised – pushed Ricardo dos Santos do Nascimento over. He connected with the Brasilian defender’s face – it may have been light and do Nascimento’s reaction unsporting, but that was either a straight red – arguably the second Jabrane should have received inside a quarter of an hour – or the yellow card should have been his second.

Astonishingly, in a semi-final of CAF’s most prestigious club competition, there was no VAR to aid the officials. After last season’s controversy in the first leg of the final between Al Ahly and Esperance (the Egyptians won 3-1 in a match of three penalties, two given after consulting VAR) and the suspension for corruption of the Algerian referee of that match Mehdi Abid Charef, there’s still no VAR in the tournament – even at the semi-final stage. That is incredible.

CAF have used VAR in some competitions, but not in its most important club competition, or even AFCON qualification. VAR would have easily resolved whether Jabrane should have received a red card if de Carvalho and his assistants were unsure. With so much at stake is there any reason to justify not using the available technology?

No Excuses

Mosimane refused to look for excuses after seeing his Brazilians fall flat. He admitted that his team were not good enough, saying the gulf was too high, and that Southern Africans could not compete financially with North African teams. Mosimane, however, refused to blame the officials.

WAC coach, Fouad Benzarti, insisted that his team had just 4 defenders, rather than the back 6 journalists claim. Wydad came to frustrate, and they executed that plan – they were not obliged to attack, despite the pre-match claim by Benzarti that they would.

Less than ten minutes into the second half insult was almost added to injury, as the first attempt on target in the second half came from Jabrane. Ugandan international, the CAF Goalkeeper of the Year, Denis Onyango saved it. Chances were few and far between. Onyango was hurt during the match and would require a visit to hospital.

The first effort of the second half was a long range shot by Samuel Mabunda that cleared the cross bar. WAC substitute Michael Babatunde should have given Sundowns a mountain to climb after a neat turn in the area, but he curled his shot well wide.

In the dying minutes of the half, a gilt-edged chance arrived. Tembo Langerman returned the favour after a cross from the right found him at the far post. Langerman’s header was awful. Sundowns were out.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar May 7, 2019 00:14