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Pitroipa waiting on ref’s report

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By Jonty Mark

Johannesburg – Burkina Faso winger Jonathan Pitroipa’s chances of having his suspension lifted for Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final depend on under-fire Tunisian referee Slim Jedidi admitting he made a mistake in sending off Pitroipa in Wednesday night’s semi-final against Ghana.

The Burkina Faso Football Association have made an official complaint to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) over the second yellow card handed to Pitroipa by Jedidi in the match, when the Burkinabe star was cautioned for diving inside the Ghanaian penalty area in extra-time, replays showing that he was clearly fouled.

Pitroipa has been one of the stars of the tournament for the Burkinabe and would be a major loss for the final against Nigeria.

Caf’s organising committee will meet on Friday to discuss the issue, but Caf general secretary Hicham El Amrani said on Thursday that Pitroipa’s yellow card could only be overturned if Jedidi admits in his referee’s report that he erred in his decision to hand out the second yellow card.

“The organising committee will meet tomorrow, but the organising committee doesn’t have the power to make decisions unless the referee, in his report, acknowledges that he has made a mistake,” said El Amrani.

Burkinabe coach Paul Put described Pitroipa’s sending-off, and other controversial decisions made by Jedidi on Wednesday, when Ghana were also awarded a contentious early penalty as “scandalous” and El Amrani said that Caf had suspended Jedidi from refereeing for the time being.

“I have to be honest, and say Caf are unhappy about the level of refereeing in the second match (Burkina Faso v Ghana) yesterday,” said El Amrani.

“Referees make mistakes but we would have expected a much better level of refereeing. The referees are being graded as they perform and based on that performance, the referee of the second semi-final has already been suspended.

“The duration of the suspension will be decided by the organising committee in conjunction with the refereeing committee.”

Refereeing at this Nations Cup has come in for plenty of criticism with the performance of Jedidi and that of South Africa's Daniel Bennett in the game between Togo and Tunisia standing out as particularly awful. Both Bennett and Jedidi, worryingly, are on Fifa’s provisional list of match officials for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

“The technicians have already made the (World Cup) pre-selections prior to this tournament,” said El Amrani. “They will sit down, review the performances in this Afcon and make a final decision.”

The Caf general secretary added that he thought the general standard of refereeing was improving, and hit out at those who have accused the governing body of favouritism towards certain countries.

“The refereeing is improving despite mistakes, let us not cover the entire thing with pessimism,” he added. “We are satisfied with the level of performance of our referees and are working hard to further develop them.

“I cannot say this overall tarnishes the image of the competition. I understand the frustration of some fans that some decisions look unfair.

“But I cannot accept comments about Caf being against one federation or one country. One day we are against Nigeria, the next Algeria, and the next Zambia. This is just nonsense for us. The issue is about a referee on the day of a match making a mistake, full stop.” – The Star

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