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Soccer News of Wednesday, 31 March 2004

Source: Ghana Celebrities

Ref Was Biased - Times of Zambia

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THE Nigerian match commissioner who oversaw Sunday's Olympics soccer qualifier between Zambia and Ghana has revealed that he had to order the bungling Togolese referee, Kokou Jioupe, to stop intimidating Zambian players with his dubious calls half way through the first half.

Match commissioner, Bolaji Ojo-Oba, told the Zambian delegation he had to send his fourth official to tell Jioupe his off-side calls, which nullified a good-looking goal by the Zambians, were suspect.

Leader of the Zambian team, George Kasengele, said Ojo-Oba told him after the game he had to let Jioupe know he was being watched and had not impressed.

Kasengele had met the Nigerian after the match to get him to include the feelings of the Zambian team in his report of the match.

"We had to let him know that while we did not expect the result to be overturned, we wanted it put on record that we were deeply unhappy with the referee's performance," he said.

Kasengele said Ojo-Oba said he agreed with the Zambians' observations that the refereeing had intimidated their players to the point where they became scared of challenging for 50-50 balls.

Kasengele said his 'quiet diplomacy' meeting with Ojo-Oba was to let him know the Zambians were unhappy that suspect refereeing had cost them the game.

It was also to let him know that the pre-match fears expressed by the FAZ over the appointment of the Togolese match officials had been clearly borne out by the performance of Jioupe and his linesmen.

He said with Zambia set to make four trips into West Africa during the upcoming 2006 World Cup qualifying series, the FAZ wanted it on record that it now had a good picture of what it could expect or not expect from West African officials handling Zambian games.

"We just want FIFA and CAF to know that we are not being difficult for nothing but that experience has taught us lessons we can not ignore," said Kasengele.

He said he was glad that the match commissioner had lent his support as this proved the point in the protest over the referees from Togo.

Kalusha Bwalya, the FAZ vice-president, said he was disappointed that a good game was ruined by biased refereeing.

He said the disallowing of the Zambian goal, scored just seconds after Ghana had netted their first of the two goals that won them the ticket to the Athens Olympics soccer finals in August, had changed the complexion of the game.

He said it dispirited the inexperienced Zambians and also had the effect of killing the momentum the team was building for the future.

Kalusha said it was time that Zambian football administrators began to get involved at CAF and FIFA levels to give the country a stronger voice in the game.

The team, which had needed just a draw to get through to the Olympics where it last appeared in 1988, was devastated by the loss, with a few players fighting back tears.

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