|ON THE SPOT: Willard Katsande again|
THERE'S a trend emerging in the PSL. And it has to be talked about. Kaizer Chiefs, utterly ineffective up front but still in the title race, have been awarded FOUR PENALTIES in their last FOUR GAMES.
Here are the facts: Apart from the drab 0-0 draw with current leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, we have the Telkom KO final, the 2-1 win over Bidvest Wits and Sunday’s 1-0 win over Bloemfontein Celtic as evidence.
Triumphant Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane simply laughed about the spot-kicks afterwards: “You all saw it… you know” he said, and avoided another PSL fine. After all, it was December 16, Reconciliation Day.
Fast forward three days to the big League clash: Against Bidvest Wits in Cape Town on December 19. Gavin Hunt, slightly more aggressive than Mosimane, was beaten 2-1 after referee Daniel Bennett offered Chiefs another penalty - this time it looked a reasonable shout - amid a couple of crucial pro-Chiefs decisions, including a missed off-side for the winner.
Hunt said: “We knew Chiefs would get a start, you saw it, but what can we do? Wits are an unfashionable club. You know how it works.”
And so to Sunday in Bloemfontein. Good atmosphere, poor surface, not a great game. Chiefs were probably the better side but when Malawian Gabadinho “Frank” Mhango broke in to the box for Celtic and was tripped by Tower Mathoho, referee Thabo Mkosi immediately blew.
But was it a penalty? NO! He cautioned the unfortunate Mhango for “simulation” and Steve Komphela’s men were off the hook. At half-time, we all saw the replays. We all saw the truth. Celtic had been robbed.
Then, with 70 minutes gone and not a goal in sight, Chiefs new signing William Twala, on as a sub for the lamentable Ugandan Sula Matovu, hit the post with Cameroonian goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb getting a touch.
That looked like it was going to be the closest thing to a goal we’d see - until Twala fell over running in to the box with Aphiwe Lubisi minutes later. Former Orlando Pirates winger Twala, signed in some kind of swap deal with Chippa United which saw him “released from his contract” must be laughing like a drain.
Lubisi had a hand out as Twala went across him. He touched his back. There was contact. But then came the Olympic dive and the now-traditional PENALTY FOR KAIZER CHIEFS!
And who better to put it away than the Willard Katsande, for me the best defensive midfielder in the country. After those two Telkom final misses, Katsande - who celebrated his 30th birthday last Friday - assumed the responsibility against Wits. And he did it again in Bloemfontein.
Of course the AmaDrawsi - heading towards 8 draws out of 14 (and threatening SuperSport United’s 2012-13 record of 17 in a season) - won’t agree but it feels like Katsande is currently Chiefs best - perhaps only - threat. From 12 yards of course.
He now has as many goals as the once-prolific Bernard Parker (2) and with 16 games still to come in a poorly scheduled PSL, he could yet reach double figures if the penalties keep coming. Nobody deserves it more than Katsande, a humble, terrific character.
But the point is, people see the decisions. The penalties. My phone was red hot on Sunday with people involved in the game questioning another spot kick win for Chiefs, who have lost just once this season and are now FIVE short of Sundowns and Aces at the top.
But when Serame Letsoake came out to talk to Robert Marawa after the game, Chiefs coach Steve Komphela was asked to stay in the frame. And when the crucial penalty question came, the articulate former team-mate stopped the under-pressure Letsoake from replying.
“Of course it was a penalty, there was a shove,” said Komphela, talking over his rival. He then blathered on about enemies and friends and when he walked away, with Letsoake crying “Steve, Steve…” the penalty question was NEVER repeated.
I’m not saying the debate is deliberately avoided. Or that replays of these incidents are deliberately avoided by SuperSport in their bid to stay cosy, even AmaKhosi, with the big guns of the PSL.
All I’m saying is: WE SEE YOU. Four penalties, four games. Nobody can prove anything (though football and cricket match-fixing have been uncovered in this country several times in recent years) but it can’t be ignored.
The people who KNOW football are aware. Coaches, players, former referees and elderly journalists who have spent 40 years covering football all over the world. We know. It has to stop. Please.