Monday March 20 2017

Vipers blame dramatic exit on ‘biased’ referee


By Denis Bbosa


Just when Caf Confederations Cup representatives Vipers had started believing that they were returning from South Africa with smiles on their faces after Milton Karisa scored that vital away goal, a second Mbongeni Mzimela goal - a third for Platinum Stars - dashed their faint hopes.

It will take ages for Vipers officials to believe that Swaziland referee Elliot Mbogseni was neutral after making a few ‘dubious’ calls and needed police backing to be escorted off the pitch after tense game.

Platinum Stars showed intent to attack and get goals from the onset scoring inside two minutes from a penalty taken by custodian Mzimela after striker Benson Shilongo was fouled in the box. A well taken freekick by Ndumiso Mabena on 33 minutes that caught goalkeeper Ismail Watenga unawares gave the hosts a healthy 2-0 lead before Karisa, who netted in the 1-0 at Kitende in the first leg, reduced the deficit midway the second half.

Karisa’s 55 minute strike temporarily put the Venoms on the brink of progressing with the aggregate scale reading 2-2 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

The Dikwena were awarded another penalty with two minutes to the final whistle and Mzimela stepped up to score to make it 3-1 on the night, 3-2 on aggregate, to send Calvin Johnson’s side through.
According to Vipers technical director Harunah Kyobe who was in Rustenburg, what the centre referee termed hand ball didn’t exit at all.

“It was a goal mouth scramble with so many players in the box trying to block a goal bound shot and it was indeed cleared only for the referee to call for a penalty.”

So infuriated was the visitors’ technical bench that head coach Jorge Da Costa wanted to go for the Mbogseni’s neck.

He had made only one change in the team that beat the South Africans at St Mary’s stadium a week ago with left-back Aggrey Madoi stepping in for Dan Birikwalira - a move many analysts say was heavily punished for lacking a defensive approach whilst on foreign soil.

Like counterparts KCCA that were denied by another South African side Mamelodi Sundowns earlier on Saturday, Vipers who have played just six matches on the continent in their lifespan, were punished for their inexperience, lack of precision and stage fright.