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Caf needs to cut Esperance whining


The fact that the Confederation of African Football has been forced to drop a referee who was assigned the duties of handling the explosive second leg African Champions League semifinal between Esperance du Tunis and TP Mazembe is a clear indication that the continental body still has a lot to do to clean up the department comprising the men in black.

Mazembe lodged a complaint about the Gambian referee who was supposed to handle their match in Tunis this week. As a kind of admission that the whistle man might indeed not be suitable for such a highly charged clash, CAF acceded to Mazembe's demands and removed Bakary Gassama and appointed a Senegalese referee - Badara Diatta - to handle the game.

Now Esperance is screaming blue murder. They have lodged a counter complaint by claiming that they are not comfortable with a Senegalese referee as he will be biased against them because Mazembe, a team based in the mining town of Lubumbashi in the DR Congo, is coached by Lamine N'Diaye, a Senegalese national. I think Esperance is trying to take us all for fools.

In fact, they are creating such a huge smokescreen in an attempt to affect our vision in the hope that by the time we manage to see through the haze they have created, the game will be over. They are displaying clear signs of jittery cowards who will easily point an accusing finger to the referee as they already seem to be anticipating a loss at home.

Let me remind them that the man who sits smugly in the CAF Glasshouse in Cairo and appoints referees for each and every international match under the auspices of the continental body is a former President of the very same Esperance - Tarek Bouchamaoui - and yet nobody has ever said they have over the years enjoyed special privileges from their former boss with the appointment of particularly sympathetic referees.

Esperance throw their toys around at every turn and unless CAF put their foot down and tell them where to get off or shut up, we will be forgiven for thinking they entertain the tantrums of the Tunisians. Their whining goes beyond gamesmanship.

They falsely accused Mazembe of fielding an improperly registered player in the competition two years ago. I wonder if CAF applied their minds to the case correctly because, after throwing out Mazembe from the competition, Fifa has come out to rule that CAF blundered and should not have kicked Mazembe out and further smeared egg over their faces by ruling that the player was in actual fact properly registered and Esperance are the ones who should have been sanctioned.

Recently, Esperance bleated on top of their voices claiming that Mazembe had paid Berekum Chelsea of Ghana an obscene amount of money to lose their final African Champions League group match in Accra in order to avoid them in the semifinal - an accusation that was both cheap and insulting to the two African teams - as Chelsea defeated Mazembe to leave them red faced.

Is CAF prepared to take action against the Tunisians and rap them over their knuckles for bringing the game into disrepute or are they scared to take action against the defending champions who behave recklessly like a loose cannon?

We are watching!


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