By Ricky Zililo
HIGHLANDERS said they will defend their players against any retrospective action threatened by Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa for allegedly bullying Dynamos striker, Christian Epoupa Ntouba.
Chiyangwa raised eyebrows on Monday after announcing that Zifa had rescinded Ntouba’s straight red card without following due process.
Ntouba was sent off for head butting Bosso defender Peter Muduhwa in an explosive Castle Lager Premiership game at Rufaro Stadium.
Speaking at the club’s weekly press briefing yesterday, Highlanders’ chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube and head coach, Erol Akbay, said that Chiyangwa was offside.
Highlanders wrote to the Premier Soccer League on Tuesday mocking Chiyangwa’s decision and demanded to be awarded a penalty they were denied by Masvingo-based referee, Arnold Ncube, when striker Godfrey Makaruse was felled in the box in the 52nd minute.
“We haven’t received any official communication from Zifa about a replay or action on our players. In as far as we know, the game ended and as Highlanders, we are not in the habit of playing replays because we know that a referee’s decision is final.
“The letter we wrote to Zifa was a satire and it’s self-explanatory. We were just highlighting the anomaly in the decision made to rescind the red card. We understand the rules and laws of the game that a referee’s decision is final. What we simply did was lift a mirror to reflect this ridiculous decision (rescinding of the red card) and we also raised equally ridiculous suggestions,” said Dube.
“It was all a satire because we know that complaints are raised through the right channels. We’re a competitive side and have never been cry babies. We know errors are made in football and whenever we raise issues, it will be for purposes of the good of the game,” he said.
Akbay weighed in saying he was shocked by Chiyangwa’s decision and praised Muduhwa for doing a great job of keeping Epoupa under lock and key.
“I was shocked to hear people trying to fault my players after the big game. Nobody can touch my boys because they didn’t do anything wrong. My player (Muduhwa) did a very good job. I was an attacking player and I spent lots of time with defenders. What I know is that a defender will do everything to make sure that a striker loses concentration and my player was a step ahead of their player (Epoupa),” said Akbay.
Meanwhile, the PSL has technically rendered invalid Chiyangwa’s nullification of Ntouba’s red card, saying the referee’s decision is final.
In a statement, the PSL said they had not received a protest letter from Dynamos or communication from Zifa regarding the expulsion of Ntouba and were only in possession of the referee’s report.
This means Ntouba is ineligible to play in Sunday’s rearranged match against Caps United.
The other players set to miss Sunday’s encounter include Dynamos’ duo of defender Lincoln Zvasiya and midfielder Ticahaona Chipunza as well as Caps United’s Valentine Musarurwa, who are suspended after accumulating three yellow cards each. The Chronicle