Ernst Middendorp. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES
Ernst Middendorp. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has added his voice to the growing calls for match officials in SA to be professional.

Match officials have come under intense scrutiny this season after a series of poor performances. Chiefs’ 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over Orlando Pirates in the quarterfinals of the Telkom Knockout in Durban on Saturday was also dominated by numerous questionable decisions.

“The only solution is not communication or VAR [video assistant referee]. The only solution is for the SA Football Association [Safa] and the Premier Soccer League [PSL] to make match officials professional‚” Middendorp said.

“I have been leading in these discussions for a long time, with other coaches following, that professionalisation must come in where everybody is prepared and has a clear target like we do as coaches and players.”

Some of the glaringly poor decisions by the officials included Chiefs’ disallowed goal by Samir Nurkovic in the first half. He was  erroneously flagged offside by near-side assistant Zakhele Siwela.

Red card

Then there was the failure by referee Jelly Chavani to send off Pirates midfielder Thembinkosi Lorch for what looked like a deliberate stamp on the leg of Khama Billiat. Chavani’s inaction led to scuffles between players.

Pirates‚ who finished the match with 10-men after defender Mthokozisi Dube received a red card in the second half‚ were unlucky not to benefit when Chavani controversially waved play on after it appeared that Chiefs goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi had brought down Tshegofatso Mabasa in the box.

Though he pointed out the problems‚ Middendorp said it does not serve any purpose to keep criticising match officials after every game as they are trying their best under difficult circumstances.

“At the moment I have only compliments for the referees because they come in and do their best‚” he said.

Middendorp said the public seem to think teams benefit from referees’ mistakes, but he asked which teams actually benefit.

“[Whether it is] Pirates, Sundowns‚ Highlands Park‚ Black Leopards or even here with Chiefs‚ it happens and it is normal.

“Have you seen the goal for Bloemfontein Celtic against SuperSport United? Have you seen the Pirates goal against Highlands Park? They do their best‚ sometimes let it go and don’t even think about it.”

His Pirates counterpart, Rulani Mokwena, said that mistakes by match officials are a cry for help.

“It does not help bashing them because it is not going to solve anything.

“We need to support them and find solutions to improve the standard of officiating in this country‚” Mokwena said.