The Total African Cup of Nations is set to enter the quarterfinal stage tomorrow after the completion of the round of 16.
Benin,Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa,Madagascar, Algeria, Ivory Coast and Tunisia are the last 8 teams seeking to be crowned continental champions. Earlier before the start of the tournament, Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced that the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) would be used from the quarterfinal stage.
Making the announcement, CAF president Ahmed Ahmad (who was recently arrested in France over Corruption allegations) said that there was no rush to use the technology. “It’s a measure of prudence. When you see the various countries that use VAR, they don’t rush into it from the start. It’s a technology that a lot of people don’t completely use yet,” Ahmad said in Cairo, on the eve of the opening match between hosts Egypt and Zimbabwe.
“It was planned for the semi-finals to start with, but we insisted that we have to go a little bit further. The executive committee decided on the quarter-finals, so that it’s a success.”
Many football fans across the continent have condemned the planning, with a number of controversial decisions from referees having been witnessed in the group stage and round of 16.
For instance, many fans have decried the controversy in the first half of yesterday’s match between Ghana and Tunisia,when captain Andre Ayew backheeled a Jordan Ayew cross into the net, only for South African referee Victor Gomes to disallow the goal for a handball by Thomas Partey. The replays thereafter however confirmed the ball came off Partey’s chin.
Speaking to the press after the match, Ghananian coach Appiah asserted that the game would have been different if VAR was used
“If we had VAR to check on the disallowed goal, maybe it would have been a different result.
I think that since VAR is being used in the whole world and we all know the benefits, CAF should make use of it too. Sometimes if you lose points because of the mistake of a referee, I don’t think it’s the best competition”
“In future, if CAF can start from the start of the tournament, I don’t think it will do anyone harm. It benefits everyone. Any decisions that are taken, the video review referees will show what it is. I don’t like criticising referees [but] I think he should look at the video again and judge himself , that’s the best thing to do.”
The incompetence of CAF,a body mandated to take charge of the continental football was once again witnessed last month in the 2nd leg of CAF Champions League final between Esperance and Wydad Casablanca. The game saw Wydad’s goal disallowed by the referee yet it was a clear goal. The VAR machines failed to work, prompting Wydad players to protest the match and Esperance were awarded the medals as winners.
After an appeal,CAF ordered Esperance to return the medals and the game to be replayed after the AFCON competition, although Esperance have said they won’t take part because it wasn’t their fault for VAR’s failure.
The scandals are followed by reports that FIFA is set to take over CAF, with Corruption allegations surrounding president Ahmed Ahmad, who was recently arrested in France.