- Pirates came from behind to beat Sekhukhune United
- But a controversial penalty sparked their comeback
- A former PSL referee analyses the penalty awarded to Bucs
WHAT HAPPENED? The Buccaneers edged Sekhukhune United 2-1 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium to be crowned Nedbank Cup champions on Saturday. It was a match which saw Pirates having to chase Babina Noko, who had taken a 12th-minute lead through Sibusiso Vilakazi.
Then on the stroke of half-time, the Soweto giants were awarded a penalty by referee Thando Ndzandzeka after Victor Letsoalo was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box.
It was a controversial call as Thembinkosi Lorch appeared to be deliberately kicking the ball on Letsoalo’s hand, with the Sekhukhune star sprawling on the turf.
Ndzandzeka’s decision sparked a fierce debate, but former PSL referee Victor Hlongwani has offered his expert analysis. The penalty, converted by defender Tapelo Xoki, launched Pirates’ comeback before Terrence Dzvukamanja sealed victory in stoppage time.
WHAT WAS SAID: “It is an offence if a player deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball,” said Hlongwani as per IOL.
“This guy [Letsoalo], he first kicked the ball before moving his hand towards the ball where he made contact with it with his fingertips.
“It was hand to the ball, not ball to the hand. So an offence was committed. Correct decision by the assistant who flagged and the referee who blew his whistle in agreement that an offence had been committed.
“In plain language, there was a hand to the ball – a handball. So, when there’s a hand to the ball that’s an offence and when it is ball to hand, no offence is committed.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: To highlight how Xoki’s penalty has been a major talking point of Saturday’s match, various figures have emerged commenting on it with different opinions. Kaizer Chiefs legend Marks Maponyane slammed Ndandzeka’s call and calls it the "worst refereeing" he has ever seen.
But Pirates coach Jose Riveiro has supported the referee’s decision, saying the penalty was legitimate. Sekhukhune United coach Brandon Truter has refused to comment on the incident.
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WHAT NEXT FOR PIRATES? The Soweto giants will now go for the off-season break, and the upcoming weeks will see coach Jose Riveiro refreshing his squad for more challenges next term.