Super Eagles have sent a passionate plea to officiating men at the ongoing AFCON 2013 Nations Cup, asking them to be fair to them in their remaining games, even as they hope to qualify for the quarterfinals after their clash with Ethiopia on Tuesday.
Reacting to Friday’s shock officiating, which culminated in a dubious penalty that was awarded to Zambia by an Egyptian referee, team skipper, Joseph Yobo, said while he would not want to question the officials, he would want to appeal for fairness in order for the best team to always win. However, his assistant, Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama was more direct in his reaction.
“It was a bizarre officiating, the worst penalty award I have ever seen in my entire football career. Only God knows why they are doing this to us.” Gangling defender, Azubuike Egwueke, added that he was shocked on the bench when the referee pointed to the spot. “It was like a dream and I was asking whether it was a penalty award or free kick against Zambia. CAF should help us and plead with the referees to be fair to the team.” Sunday Mba, who has yet to taste action at the championship spoke in similar vein.
He said that even the officials of Nigeria’s opening game with Burkina Faso seemed as if they had some hidden agenda. On his part, Ogenyi Onazi, who was alleged to have caused the penalty, said he was still at a loss over the referee’s call. “The opposing Zambian player was the one who was pulling me, shoving and almost pulled my pants down. Besides, we were not even inside the 18-yard box when the referee called for the penalty.
CAF should please tell them to stop killing African football,” he pleaded. Meanwhile, Super Eagles will today depart for Rustenberg from Nelspruit, where they will play their final group game against Ethiopia on Tuesday. The team will leave Nelspruit at 9am for a flight to Pilanesburge Airport, and arrive there at about 11:35am from where it will go by road to Rustenberg.
In spite of the result of the game on Friday, Super Eagles’ Head Coach, Stephen Keshi and Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) President, Kalusha Bwalya, showed no animosity towards each other after the controversial 1-1 draw between both countries in their last game.
The duo hugged and patted each other on the back and recalled the heroic days of football when they were the signposts of their two nations. “Present day players need to borrow a leaf from us on how to become true legends of the game,” Kalusha said, with journalists snapping away at the duo while in firm embrace.