Three matches were decided on the opening day of the NPFL Championship Playoff in Lagos on Saturday and as it is the norm in every football competition, the matches served us thrills and controversies in mixed proportions.
With many referees decisions under scrutiny, Anietie Ferdinand Udoh, a respected referee who was on the FIFA list from 2013 to 2020 before he was dropped due to injury runs the rule over some of the key decisions in the games for www.aclsports.com
Let’s read through Ferdinand’s thoughts.
“I have taken time to read through all messages concerning yesterday’s games; the expectations, predictions and most importantly, the disappointments some persons felt from the Refereeing facet.
Now, lets make some analysis:
The players in this year’s NPFL Championship Playoffs have been training and analysing games of opponents before this tournament started but referees (apart from fitness training which sometimes may not translate to taking key decisions except for proximity to areas of incidents) did not undergo any technical, mental or psychological training/trainings before the tournament.
They only arrived Lagos within forty-eight hours and went straight to the tournament.
In CAF and FIFA competitions, referees go for routine courses that last for weeks and months and arrive tournament venue two weeks before kick off for preparations..
There was also the issue of some clubs trying to destroy some referees before the tournament with selfish and ignorant media write-ups which automatically would have a negative effect on the mental strength of the referees in the tournament.
GAME BY GAME REVIEW
Enyimba FC vs Remo Stars (2-2)
The centre referee was spot on in the early minutes of the game with great fitness level, anticipation, crossing and attacking all lines, excellent positioning untill late into the game where he almost lost control of the game.
In the biggest game in the NPFL, decisions like this shouldn't be a game decider.— POOJA!!! (@PoojaMedia) June 3, 2023
The ref picks this foul as a penalty against Remo Stars v Enyimba. pic.twitter.com/Lc6sbB0vhE
Remo Stars’ first goal from the boot of Junior Lokosa…
By all standard, this was offside. Again, you want to blame the Assistant Referee? No way! That’s the reason we have VAR.. Even with VAR, there have been series of complaints for incompetence of VAR in saner climes or leagues let alone a league that does not provide communication gadgets or pagging system for match officials.
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This match is not a good advertisement for Nigerian referees at all! Lokosa's goal was offside while that was never a penalty for @EnyimbaFC— C7# (@Supereaglescomp) June 3, 2023
You can read our Match Report for the Enyimba/Remo game here.
Sunshine Stars vs Rivers United (0-1)
The centre referee was in charge of the first game of the regular season when Bendel Insurance surprised Akwa United in Uyo. He was at the last Under 17 AFCON tournament and stayed till the final. He is not a push over, one of the most promising referees we have along side the likes Ayeni Rildwan.
There are certain mindsets I want us to abolish. It has to do with the issue of soft penalties. There are no soft or hard or medium penalties; a penalty kick is a penalty kick. Once the offence warrants a direct freekick if it occurs outside the penalty area, it must be a PK if it happens inside the penalty area. If there can’t be soft free kicks, there can’t be soft PK.
The incident was a PK and it was duly awarded. My only problem with the referee was that he was slow to react with no strong body language and did not take up a better position.
Bendel Insurance vs Lobi Stars (0-0)
It was a good game, in all. The referee missed a good PK against Lobi Stars which is a major decision and may have changed the result of the match. Again, the referee lacked courage for such decision…
In all, it was not a bad day for my colleagues but they can do more and give a good account of themselves in the upcoming games.
Anietie Ferdinand Udoh